In the last two weeks, we have discussed the dangers associated with scams aimed at seniors. To learn more about those topics, you can visit: http://www.dclawfirm.net/blog--news/why-are-retirees-easy-targets-for-con-artists-part-one and http://www.dclawfirm.net/blog--news/why-are-retirees-easy-targets-for-con-artists-part-two. Today, we begin Part three (3) in our four (4) part series on elderly financial scams by diving into internet and computer scams and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Senior Citizens have traditionally been less apt to be the subject of Internet scams because of a lack of technological savvy. However, as the Baby Boomers move fully into retirement years, we have seen an increase in the number of Internet scams, due to the group’s advanced comfort with computers.
The Internet is an easily accessible tool for use by financial abusers. Swindlers can send out thousands of emails with very little effort. Avoid being a victim of these type of scams by not providing personal information on the Internet to any companies that you have not substantiated as being legitimate. If you receive an e-mail asking you to update or confirm your information, you should call the institution and verify that they sent the e-mail before providing personal data on the Internet. Many of these e-mails will copy existing logos and colors to mimic authentic company correspondence. When it comes to providing your personal data over a computer, you can’t be too careful. Here are two (2) common examples of internet fraud:
Anti-Virus Scam: Many aging adults rely on others to “fix” virus issues on their home computers and are, therefore, easier to trick with this tactic. The con artist persuades the older adult to buy fake anti-virus software, which the senior pays for at the time of purchase, either by credit card or by direct bank payment. Instead of obtaining the anti-virus software the individual thinks they are purchasing, the scammer now has their payment information and a program has been downloaded that gives them direct access to the individual’s personal data stored on their home computer. You should always verify the source of any anti-virus software before providing payment information or downloading it to your computer. If you are unsure about a “fix”, call and ask a trusted individual for help.
False Links: With this type of scam, an email will ask you to click on the attached link to access certain information. An example would be, “Open the attached overdue invoice.” or “I can’t believe it’s you in this picture!”. If you click on the link, you have just verified your identity for the con artist and, like with the scenario above, may have downloaded a virus. It is not uncommon for these fake links to appear to come from a friend or family member, when in reality, that individual has been hacked and their contact list has been stolen to perpetuate this crime. Your safest action is never to click on a link, unless you are confident of the source and you are expecting the e-mail. When in doubt, call the source and verify that they sent the original e-mail and link.
Next week we’ll discuss mail fraud, home repair fraud, and professional fraud and what precautions you and your loved ones can take to prevent becoming a victim.
If you have questions, contact Davis & McCann, P. A., Dodge City, KS. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on estate planning, Medicaid and Long-term Care Planning, Family Business/Small Business Succession Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Real Estate Transactions, and related matters.
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