Hey, senior Internet surfers: Sharks are circling
Yes, the bad guys have followed you to Facebook and other fun places. Here, courtesy of SiteJabber, are the most common cons and tips to avoid getting bamboozled.
SiteJabber co-founder Jeremy Gin said "that increasing numbers of scammers have begun to target this demographic online. However with a bit of education and caution -- from both the older adults and the rest of their families -- we remain optimistic that many of these scams can be avoided."
Here is what they found with some tips about how to avoid them:
1. Work-at-home scams
These scams aim at folks who are looking to pick up some work. Whether it's filling out surveys, clicking on ads, multi-level marketing or stuffing envelopes, most of these schemes are worthless and put victims at risk of identity theft.
Tip: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is . . ."
2. Dating scams
More than 11 million senior citizens live alone, so it stands to reason many would be attracted to online communities where people can meet each other. Such territory, however, is ripe for scams.
Tips: Research a site before signing up, don't send money to anyone you meet online (run away when they ask for cash to be sent by a money transfer service) and if you go to meet someone you know only online do it in a public place.
3. Lottery/sweepstakes scams
Congratulations, you've won a huge prize. Or so it might seem. The most likely scenario is you're being targeted to make a payment with the idea you can collect or your personal information is being harvested.
Tips: Don't give out your personal information, and don't pay to win.
4. Bogus online pharmacies
Fake online pharmacies are always looking for new customers. Some pretend to be from Canada, where many Americans have gone to get their medications. But, even when some of these outfits do actually send something, it could be expired, contaminated or not even medication at all.
Tip: Do business with known pharmacies.
5. Facebook scams
With so many seniors now on Facebook -- a study found that 30% are on the social networking site -- they're also prime targets for the myriad scams that can be found there. Facebook is home for many phishing scams -- where criminals dupe you into giving up personal information -- as well as other schemes that can leave your computer infected.
Tips: Don't click on links to sites that are not well known, even if people you know are -- or seem to be -- recommending you do so. Not everyone recognizes a scam, and just because a friend appears to be making the recommendation doesn't mean he or she really is.
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Last week Facebook notified me someone in another state tried, unsuccessfully, to log in to my Facebook account and requested that I change my password. It was probably an accident but I'm keeping close check on all my accounts while relieved that there's nothing on Facebook that would hurt me financially.
I've made a note of these... Are there any more that come to mind?
There is no reason for seniors who are beginner Internet users to be afraid of using online stores, dating sites, or Facebook.
These services provide great benefits – the joy of keeping in touch with friends and family, the opportunity to save time and money, the power of knowledge about products and health. Staying active and social online helps seniors more connected, is a great mental stimulation, and reduces the risk of dementia.
A combination of tips on how to avoid scams and specialized safe tools work well to protect seniors from scam.
Antivirus and firewall are a must to prevent technical scam.
Tools exist to protect seniors from psychological scam such as “Lottery scam” or “Facebook scam”.
For example, any email client for seniors with a whitelist ensures that seniors receive their messages only from known contacts. Facebook app for seniors with Safe Mode, such as EasyFamily Social, prevents seniors from disclosing sensitive information.
There is also an integrated app for seniors that provides a safe online environment, including easy and safe email, Facebook, and browsing – EasyFamily AppSuite. The app is available at for iPad, Android tablets and Windows computers.
Printed safety guide, safe apps, and proper education on scam risks will make a great start for a tech-shy beginner grandma in her online journey.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
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