Elderly people can avoid being scammed

How elderly people can avoid being scammed

how can elderly people avoid being scammed

Elderly pensioners are all too often being targeted by scammers via text messages and emails and the sad truth is that the most vulnerable of our population are identified as easy targets by these criminals.   

Scammers can use disgusting tactics such as posing as bank representatives, phone company customer service officers and largely trusted organisations to gain the elderly persons trust.   Scammers will offer free chances to win fake prizes, pretend to do virus removal services, fix fake problems with your computer or phone and they may even try to convince you they are offering a free service to elderly retirees to help protect them from scammers.

Scammers will say anything they can to influence and pressure an elderly person they are in contact with.   They are extremely good at creating a sense of urgency about their fake situation to make their victims scared not to authorise them to access their electronic devices or accounts online.   They may even count on their victim to have some form of mental health issue and be somewhat incapable of being able to understand what is happening to them.

One thing for sure folks is that once they’ve got what they contacted you for, you will pay the price.   You may end up giving them enough information to either steal your identity or access your financial institution.   In some cases they will clean out your bank account, in other cases they may create a clone of your credit card and embark on spending spree at your expense.

How do Scammers target Elderly People?

scammers target elderly people

Unfortunately, a vast percentage of elderly people don’t understand the many different ways that scammers will trick people into handing over the information they need to do harm.

It all might start from a text message they send you whereby a fake internet security service has detected a vulnerability problem with your phone and to take advantage of their free service, all you need to do is press on the link and then fill out the registration form and they will fix everything for you for free.   This type of message is the scariest of all, especially when scammers are pretending to be a particular banking institution that just happens to be yours.

If you are an elderly person and think you might fit into the target category of these ruthless scammers, it is important to educate yourself on how to recognize and avoid scams. A good place to start is the Australian Governments SCAMWATCH Website, their email address is: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au (you will need to write it down and then type this in directly to your browser, this is not a link).   Scamwatch is one of the best sources of information and truth about scams worldwide.

A thing to remember about scammers is that they are often in a difficult financial situation in their home country, and may be desperate for a better life. The people that end up working as scammers may have been unable to secure enough employment to feed their family.   Often when people in poor areas are in desperate need, the boss of a scammer organisation comes along and offers them a way to make more money than they could have ever dreamed of.   At this stage of their life, this poor starving person may not even care that the opportunity they are being offered is most likely illegal.

Whilst it is sad that some people now working as scammers may have been in, or still are such a situation, it is important to remember that once they cross the line and start stealing from people, they are committing a crime.   It is hard to imagine that there’s any way for people working as scammers to avoid ending up in jail one day soon.

Basic tips to avoid being scammed.

tips to avoid being scammed

First and foremost, I would like you all to be far more scared about your phones, tablets and computers.   I know there are times when you might be feeling bored or lonely and going through various things on your phone and scrolling through social media apps is a way to absorb an hour or two.

It may also be a nice experience for you to get a phone call from a lovely mannered and very chatty person pretending to be from a company you have association with that spends an hour or so on the phone with you talking about you and your family.

During these phone calls scammers will wait until you are nice and relaxed with talking with them and at this time they will suggest that they provide you with the special deal they initially rang about.   The scammers will then say that all they need from you now is just a few details to verify who you are.    The problem with these phone calls are twofold because not only have these scammers probably just cleaned out your bank account whilst talking to them but you have almost certainly provided that entire scammer network with a vast amount of personal information about your family.   The information you give scammers will be used against your family; you’ve probably given them enough information to develop a well scripted introduction for contacting your family members and do the same to them.

Often when a scammer rings you posing to be from your bank they will say that they need to check or fix a certain problem with your account or they might offer you a better deal in some fashion.   Whatever the reason a scammer claims to be ringing you about, don’t say a word, just hang up from that call immediately and then turn your phone off for around 15 minutes.   If you don’t hang up, they try to ring you continuously and from different numbers.   

Scammers are ringing you from a voice over internet phone (VOIP) and can disguise their voip to be a local number from you area; they are using very high end technology and very good at their job.

An example of what a scammer can do is to ring you using a strange looking or hidden phone number and if you answer, that’s great; they will go to work on you.   If you don’t answer, they will ring you a little later and it will display a local looking number if you then do answer, the scammer might claim to be from an internet security service or some other help service ask if you have been receiving calls from strange numbers.   The scammers will say that they have received numerous reports of this happening in your area and as such are now offering people a free update that will stop you getting these calls.   Scammers will trick you into handing over critical personal information and then set about relieving you of all of your money.

Unsolicited phone calls from scammers are extremely dangerous and one of the best things you can do is to let any phone calls from people outside of your friends and family network go to message bank.  

Save all of your important phone numbers as ‘contacts’ on your phone, if you don’t know how to do it, get a loved one to help you.   Some scammers won’t be bothered with leaving a message but many still will.

At least by letting your calls go to message bank you can hear who they are claiming to be ringing from and what the issue might be.   Never ring the numbers they provide you with unless it is exactly the same as the publicly listed number in the phone book etc.   If they are claiming to be from XYZ bank, then ring XYZ bank on the correct public number or go into the local branch of that bank and explain that you received a call from someone claiming to be from their institution and find out if there’s any truth to you being officially contacted.

Emails and text messages from scammers are equally as dangerous and absolutely never click or press on any links contained within them.   Never open a message that doesn’t look right, if you do open a text message or email that has a link on it, get out of it immediately, do not press or click on the link under any circumstances.   No matter which format people might contact you, never share any personal, credit card or bank account information, no matter what organisation they are claiming to be from.

Check you bank balance on a regular basis:

1.     You may can do this online but never do so unless you have quality paid internet security on that device.

2.    You can get list of transactions using an ATM from your banking institution.

3.    You can go into the branch and ask for a list of transactions for a certain period.

If you ever suspect you may have given away a bit too much information over a phone call, ring your ban via the correct number immediately after that call or go into the nearest branch of your bank.

Explain what you did and make sure your accounts are ok and then ask for you account to be frozen immediately and ask for additional security to be applied.  The people in the branch will know what to do.   This is actually a good reminder to make sure that you belong to a financial institution that is close to where you live, there may come a time when you will need to be able to travel to your local branch via a mobility scooter etc.    If there is no local branch, then you might consider changing to a financial institution that does have a local branch.

Report any suspected scammer encounters immediately.

report any contact with scammers

If you suspect that you or someone you have just been the victim of a scam, it is important to report it to the authorities immediately, if you are unsure who to ring, always start with the police.   Police Officers are trained in how to respond to these types of calls and know who you should ring to attempt rectifying this very difficult situation.   

There is little doubt in my mind that the police would get you to contact your banking institution immediately after contacting them and report the situation and lock down all of your accounts until further notice (assuming it’s not too late).   In the country of Australia, people report scam crimes to Scamwatch, please take a few minutes to check your local country’s equivalent.

Again, never, ever press or click a link in a message, whether it is a text message on your phone, a facebook message or an email.   Only ever contact businesses or government agencies using contact information from their official website, the yellow or white pages book under your kitchen counter.     See advice today from a family member who is familiar with these modern issues and can provide you with sound advice.

Fake website Ads via online search results and links in messages

understanding dangerous website links

Not only have scammers made it dangerous to ever answer the phone from anyone other than friends or family, they have now also ruined web browsing for us (to a degree).

Scammers will often run advertisements online for particular keywords such as anti virus protection, free computer help, computer running slow, latest anti virus protection, scammer protection, internet security and critical computer updates to name a few.

Scammers frequently employ a range of strategies to trick people into falling for their fictitious computer assistance or anti-virus online advertising campaigns.   To help make their ads as realistic and alluring as possible, they even go so far as to hire senior marketing professionals, psychologists, and graphic artists.    As their scamming business can sometimes be a sub-company of a legitimate company, they can be extremely difficult for internet advertising companies to detect via their advertising programs.    The will pay a premium for their advertising priority and often their fake advertisements will be the very first thing that appears in your internet browser when you search for a particular topic.    Their advertisements can even end up in the header, within the body of text or at the footer of a websites static page or Blog post from what seems to be a very legitimate company.

Whether you click on a fake advertisement or a link within a text message or email message, you’ve probably got no idea where you are being directed to.   Scammer companies can and will develop almost identical websites of companies that are very important to you.   The specialists they employ the develop these fake websites are of the highest calibre and are paid extremely well to make sure these malicious and dangerous websites are look exactly right to your eyes.

The hidden fake website address within the link or advertisement you click or press on will also be very similar to what you would expect.   If you were expecting to visit a company called Happy Towel Days and you know the website to be www.happytoweldays.com, (don’t worry, I checked there is no such website), the site these links or advertisements will take you too might be something like www.happytowelldays.com (only 1 character difference to what you expect and a lot of people just won’t notice the difference if the site you end up at looks exactly right for you.

The tiny differences between the real and fake websites would only be detectable by someone that knows exactly what to look for.

So yes, scammers have pretty much ruined the internet for us, searching for something online for us and answering the phone for us.    Not only have they ruined these things for use but they have now made them extremely dangerous for us.   Sadly this is the world we live in now and all we can really do is to be disciplined about what we do and how we do it.

 

Maybe the best way forward is for us to go backwards with how we shop for products and services and simply restrict our spending activities to ‘Shop At A Store With A Door’

Shop at a store with a door to be safe

Remember these rules to avoid being scammed.

follow the rules to avoid being scammed

If something doesn’t feel right, sounds wrong, or just doesn’t seem like a feasible situation to you, it’s probably a scammer.   Only answer phone calls from people you know and let all other calls go to message bank.   If you forget to let all your calls to go to message bank, you answer the phone and the person on the other end claims that they are calling you to fix a problem with your internet, wireless router, computer, phone, tablet or smart TV, just hang up the phone immediately.  

It doesn’t matter if they claim to be from Samsung, Your Bank, Microsoft, Telstra, Google, Apple, IBM or some specialty computer company, hang up immediately.   These companies will NEVER ring you (no matter what).  

The reason they will never ring is because of scammers, in fact if you check on their websites, there will probably be a statement there from the CEO of these companies promising that they will never ring you and if anyone ever rings you suggesting they are from their company that you should hang up immediately.

Write down any phone appointment times you may have with your doctor or hospital.    Often you have a phone appointment with your GP or your local hospital prior to admissions, the numbers they might ring you from will either be silent numbers or not one that you are familiar with.   Obviously you need to answer these calls, so write clear notes for yourself about those calls at a place you will notice it.

Check your banking details as often as is practical for you; if you use online banking, check every day, or every other day.   If you do not use online banking then go into your local branch and check your balance and transactions (if necessary) whenever you can manage it. 

If your financial institution’s local branch is a short walk from where you park your car to go food shopping every other day, call in and check your details; it will only take a few minutes and will give you peace of mind.

No matter how urgent the situation appears, never send money to anyone.   Unfortunately, scammers are so convincing and professional these days that it may be difficult to tell the difference between your loved one and a devious scam.   Scammers may have spent months, if not years, researching your family, friends and work colleagues and are extremely well-versed in your personal and family circumstances.

 

Never underestimate Scammers.  Scammers employ thousands of different strategies to get what they want from you.   Although scamming company employees might be very poor, they are often very well trained and spend a lot of time training to be as convincing as possible.

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