5 secret identity theft scams targeting senior citizensAugust 9, 2020
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Imagine finally paying your mortgage off at age 65, only to find out that another loan was recently acquired in your name—and now creditors are demanding payment from you. Or logging into your bank account at age 70 to discover that your entire retirement savings has been depleted overnight.
The sad truth is that many senior citizens are sitting ducks for online fraud and identity theft. Americans over 60 lost a jaw-dropping $650 million to online fraud in 2018—and cyber crimes directed toward elders have increased by 400 percent in the last handful of years, according to the Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub. Seniors are targeted because they tend to be more trusting and considerate, often own assets like a home or a car, and are likely to have good credit, according to the FBI.
Scammers come from all angles—via email, text, social media, and even by phone. “Oftentimes [seniors are] very amenable to having a phone conversation with someone who sounds like they’re from a social service agency or the Internal Revenue Service,” says cybersecurity expert Adam Levin, founder of Cyberscout and author of ‘Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.’
It’s important to remember that the IRS will never call you on the phone. Beyond that, we’ve compiled a list of five of crucial ways for seniors to protect themselves from online fraud—plus, the software tools that will keep your most sensitive information under wraps.
1. When it comes to Covid-related information, be selective of your sources.
Fraudsters prey on fear and uncertainty, says Levin, so it’s no surprise that Covid-related scams have been skyrocketing—and the most vulnerable group, people age 62 and older, are in the crosshairs, says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Scammers might pose as contact tracers, but ask for inappropriate things like payment or your social security number, or encourage you to click on phishing links or download malware-laced files, the FTC warns. They’ll also send malicious links via email while posing as the CDC or WHO or serve ads for COVID home test kits that never actually arrive after you purchase them online.
One way to filter out as many COVID scams as possible in one fell swoop is by installing powerful antivirus software like Norton Security Online. Rely on Norton Security Online to block out all the virus, malware, and ransomware attacks in real time. The software covers up to five devices, so…