Did you know that older adults are prime targets for malicious fraudsters? Millions of older Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud each year. They’re often targeted because they tend to be more trusting and polite as well as have more financial savings and assets than younger adults.
Scams are big business and fraudsters are getting more and more sophisticated. In 2020, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported receiving 791,790 fraud complaints resulting in more than $4.1 billion in losses, with adults aged 60 and over representing 28% and $1 billion of total losses.
Those numbers may look overwhelming, but don’t let it scare you. By following a few best practices and staying alert for unsolicited mail or offers that seem too good to be true, you can recognize when someone might be trying to run an online or mail scam and stop them before they cause you or a loved one any damage.
The Internet is a truly powerful tool. It offers information, connection, and convenience. But it can also create opportunities for unscrupulous people to take advantage of others. Whether it’s a phishing email disguised to look like it came from a reputable source or a fraudulent website masquerading as a legitimate retailer, knowing what to look for can help keep you safe. Below are some tips on how to tell if someone is scamming you online.
Additionally, if you get an email from someone who appears to be your friend, but is asking urgently for gift cards—this is also usually a scam. Email addresses can get hacked. It’s always better to pick up the phone and call your friend before assuming that an out-of-character email from what appears to be your friend is legitimate. The friend may not even realize that their email has been compromised.
Mail scams use the same tricks as other types of fraud. They create a strong emotion and try to force quick action. For example, every year the government sends warnings about IRS mail scams because scammers know that the IRS makes people fearful and want to act quickly to comply.
The good news is that protecting yourself from mail scams follows similar rules as online scam protection. If you get something in the mail that makes you suspicious or seems too good to be true, the first thing you should do is verify the information through independent sources. Contact the organization directly via credible websites or previous information from legitimate mail you have received, or reach out to a trusted member of your network for help. If you can’t verify the information, simply throw it away and move on.
If you have been scammed, even if you didn’t lose any money, the best thing to do is report it to the FTC online or by phone at (877) 382-4357. You can also report it online to the Attorney General. Their streamlined system walks you through how to report a scammer, shares information with relevant law enforcement agencies, and offers you options for the next steps, including how to get money back after being scammed online.
Technology and the Internet are always evolving. Some of the best ways to keep yourself safe online and healthy in all aspects of life are to create and maintain social connections and develop the practice of life-long learning.
As a continuing care retirement community, Homestead Village incorporates socialization and continuous learning into daily living. Simply having the right essential care network to lean on when you have questions, want more information, or need support can give you the confidence and tools to stay alert and stop anyone who is trying to take advantage of you in their tracks.
Contact us to learn about the ongoing activities, supportive services and thriving community Homestead Village offers as you or a loved one makes a transition into retirement.
Mail scams use the same tricks as other types of fraud: create a strong emotion and try to force quick action. For example, every year the government sends warnings about IRS mail scams because scammers know that the IRS makes people fearful and want to act quickly to comply.
If you have been scammed, even if you didn’t lose any money, the best thing to do is report it to the FTC online or by phone (877) 382-4357.