6 min Read
Elder Fraud Is Real—Tell Your Parents, Grandparents And Friends About These Scams
October 24, 2022
6 min Read
October 24, 2022
Kids, it’s time to have “the talk” with your parents and grandparents.
Cybercrime costs Canadian seniors several billions in scams, according to CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons). The latest figures show elder fraud numbers are on the rise.
This is also true south of the border, says the FBI, with a 62 percent increase from a year prior, according to its Elder Fraud Report.
In fact, the number of victims could be much higher, as seniors are also less likely to report elder fraud. The Federal Trade Commission shows that while 44 percent of younger people in their 20’s reported losing money to fraud, only 20 percent of those in their 70’s did the same.
The risks are wide-ranging, from fraudulent phone calls to phishing attempts via email, texts, social media messages, or shopping scams designed to dupe seniors out of their savings.
“Romance scams” hit seniors too, with a recent story about a Calgary woman who lost nearly $800K in an online romance scam.
The pandemic played a role in the increase of elder fraud abuse, believes Michael Jabbara, Vice President and Global Head of Fraud Services at Visa.
“It’s no surprise we’ve seen a massive shift over the years towards digital transactions, but with this shift there’s also an increase focus from fraudsters,” says Jabbara. “This is especially true for elder individuals who may be a target because of a lack of technical sophistication and because they don’t always report these crimes to authorities.”
Jabbara says “grandparent scams” are still a popular attack method.
“This is where a fraudster spoofs a relative’s phone number and sends a message asking for money due to a medical emergency or text books,” he said
Jabbara says Visa has invested more than $9 billion in anti-fraud measures over the over the last five years, including the use of artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics.
“Fraudsters are able to glean those personal details the grandparent posted pictures on Facebook or Instagram, allowing them to craft a very believable message,” Jabbara said. “Or in other cases, a family member’s account is hacked and a fraudster gets access to their email, they’ll target an elder family member with a similar plea for money or help. They play on their emotions.”
Seniors also pay out more, on average, compared to younger victims.
When it comes to protecting our loved ones, letting them know about these risk plays a big role.
Jabbara says one of the best practices to fight back is to have a “tech check-in” with aging relatives, to go over these assorted tips.
Good antimalware that’s updated often can identify, quarantine, delete and report any suspicious activity coming into your computer or flag sensitive info going out.
“Seniors have more important things to do than worry about than being protected online,” says Gagan Singh, Executive Vice President and Chief Product and Revenue Officer for cybersecurity company McAfee.
McAfee Total Protection (from $39.99/year) was created to make it easy for everyone to confidently live life online no matter how much or little they know about technology and online threats including identity theft.
“Our new product lineup includes tools that help people prevent identity theft and credit fraud, including credit monitoring, credit lock, removing their personal data online, identity monitoring, and website safety notifications,” says Singh.
Resist free wireless Internet at coffee shops or airports. It’s best to wait until you’re on a secured Internet connection at home, or use your smartphone as a personal hotspot, which is safer than public Wi-Fi. If you must use a hotspot, never conduct any financial transactions – like online banking, trading or shopping – as you never know if your information is being tracked and logged.
A VPN conceals your online identity by using encryption technology, therefore what you do and where you go online cannot be seen by your service provider, the government, search engine, browser company, social media sites, advertisers and malicious types.
“VPN is an easy-to-use tool that helps users to make sure their network is secure at all times,” confirms Markuson. “For seniors, who sometimes find it hard to keep up with latest technology and cybersecurity trends, it is a perfect solution [as] VPN not only helps to stay safe while using public Wi-Fi, it also make sure user’s private data is safe from snooping.”
NordVPN can be purchased starting at $5/month with a two-year subscription that includes three months for free.