Cyber scams happen to the young and the old, the rich and the poor. It doesn’t matter how good or bad your credit is, or whether or not you have a credit card. Cybercriminals target everyone, regardless of how much or how little you rely on a computer.
The lowest of the lowlifes, however, tend to prey upon the weak and uninformed. And all too often, that means children or elderly.
Senior citizens are in a unique position because they often have money in the bank, plus access to additional lines of credit. They are less likely to be frequent Internet users, relative to younger generations, and are therefore less likely to be aware of the many scams that may be targeting them.
Many common scams take place using the telephone rather than the Internet, such as “grandparent scams,” in which victims receive calls from their supposed grandchildren, requesting money.
Online, beware of social media and dating scams. Not everyone who contacts you online is your friend, so be cautious before sharing personal information. Never, under any circumstances, should you send money on the basis an online relationship.
You’re most likely heard the term “phishing,” and have certainly received a fake email at some point. But scammers are getting better at creating targeted, personalized emails that include your name, email address, and even stolen account numbers. Never click any links within an email. Instead, go to your favorites menu or manually type the address into the address bar. If you suspect that an email might not be legitimate, hit delete.
Scammers are constantly searching for the information they need to take over your existing accounts, either by hacking into your own personal computer or by stealing data from your bank, credit card company, a government agency, or any other institution that keeps personal data on file. To prevent account takeover, keep your antivirus software updated, and pay close attention to all your bank statements. Refute any unauthorized transactions right away.
Bad guys love your Social Security number, because they can use it to open new credit accounts in your name. You’ve probably disclosed your Social Security number hundreds of times in your life, and can’t avoid disclosing it in the future. But you can protect yourself with identity theft protection and a credit freeze.