Criminals Use Online tactics to Scam Retired Victims

According to a Senate committee report last year, financial scams cost older Americans approximately $2.9 billion annually. That’s a staggering number and, unfortunately, is only expected to climb. The expectation that the senior population has an untapped nest egg at their disposal coupled with a low rate of reporting of elder abuse crimes, makes it the growing crime of the time.

As a generation that didn’t necessarily grow up with technology, Internet and email scams are prevalent ways that this market is scammed into unknowingly providing financial and/or personal information. What’s more, this group wasn’t necessarily raised in the overly-cautious environment younger generations have been. This makes them a much more trusting demographic; thus, increasing their vulnerability to criminal behavior.

Elder Abuse Online Scams

Email and Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are fraudulent emails from a cybercriminal posing as a legitimate person or organization in order to gain the trust of the recipient. Often, these emails pose as a fictitious online lottery winning, an update that’s needed for the recipient’s retirement plan or accounts, a bogus health insurance claim, or a misleading IRS tax refund. During the phishing email, the victim is directed to click on a link to fill in or verify his or her personal information. By clicking on the malicious link, they’re potentially downloading a harmful or malicious virus on their computer and unknowingly providing valuable information to the criminal that may be used to scam the senior out of his or her hard-earned money.

Internet Scams

Online usage and adoption by older Americans is slowly growing. It’s shown that this segment, typically defined as 65 and older, of our population is more likely to be a victim of a cybercrime than someone in their 40s. One popular Internet scam involves a fictitious computer pop-up message that states the computer user needs to download an anti-virus program because their computer contains a virus. It may pose as a “Microsoft anti-virus detector or program.” The anti-virus software is fictitious and, when clicked, downloads a malicious program on the computer. This can then be used by the criminals to collect valuable information from their targeted victims.

To help you, or someone you love, to avoid becoming a victim of online elder abuse, read, “Are you Safe Online?”

Some criminals have even gone as far as posing as a bank representative or security expert in helping the victim “resolve the issue” by providing even more relevant information, which only then further helps the criminals. If you think something look suspicious, it’s always better to check it out before it’s too late. Unfortunately, once a victims’ funds have been stolen by these criminal organizations, they’re often gone for good.

Always contact your local, trusted bank to help resolve any questions about your financial information before calling any phone numbers that pop-up on your computer screen. If you feel you’ve already been a victim of an online elder abuse scam or you have a loved one who has been a target, please report it immediately to your trusted First Bank team by calling our First Bank Service Center at 800-760-2265 and contact Adult Protective Services in your area by simply calling 1-800-677-1116 or by visiting their website at: https://eldercare.acl.gov.

Remember, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to report these crimes as these are professional criminals whose full-time job is to scam as many victims as possible each and every day.