The police are warning the public, urging vigilance, following incidents where several seniors have become victims of a targeted scam.
With technological progress comes an increase in the threat of cybercrime. Unfortunately, seniors are often targeted by cybercriminals due to their perceived vulnerability. Scammers employ various tactics to deceive older adults and exploit their finances.
In this article, we’ll explore the different scams aimed at the elderly and provide valuable tips on how seniors can prevent falling victim to cybercrime.
Bank Scam Targets Elderly Residents
The warning may be of paramount importance after the Queensland Police sounded the alarm, in June 2023, on a new banking scam aimed at the elderly.
The MO calls for a suspect to call a certain elderly person and claim they are from the bank, asking the person to withdraw money from their accounts as a certain employee was supposedly stealing out of their deposits. A “bank representative” would come and collect the money for supposed depositing in a special emergency account while investigations are ongoing.
Sadly, a number of people in southeast Queensland fell for the scam, and the police already caught an Indigenous man from the ACT after one person alerted the state police that he was being instructed to withdraw $10k from his account; the ACT man was allegedly assigned to collect the cash.
Email and Phishing
One prevalent scam targeting seniors is email and phishing scams. Cybercriminals send fraudulent emails posing as reputable organisations or individuals, luring seniors into revealing personal information or making monetary transactions. These emails often contain urgent requests or enticing offers that seem too good to pass up.
To prevent falling victim to email and phishing scams, seniors should:
- Verify the sender’s identity. Check the email address carefully and ensure it matches the legitimate organisation’s domain.
- Be cautious of urgent requests. Scammers create a sense of urgency to manipulate victims into acting without thinking. Always take a moment to verify the information independently.
- Avoid clicking suspicious links. To see where a link leads, hover your cursor over it. If it seems suspicious, refrain from clicking. You will also know that a legitimate URL is protected by the prefix https://. Note that cybercriminals ingeniously tweak URLs by turning certain letters as numbers. For example, if you want to browse The Australian website under https://www.theaustralian.com.au/, a dummy version of that site might come off as http://www.theaustral1an.com.au/.
- Keep software up to date. Regularly update operating systems and applications to stay protected against known vulnerabilities.
Tech Support Scam
Tech support scams involve scammers impersonating technical support representatives, reaching out to seniors via phone calls or pop-up messages. They claim to detect malware or technical issues on the victim’s computer and offer to fix the problem remotely for a fee. In reality, they gain unauthorised access to sensitive information or install malware on the victim’s device.
To prevent falling victim to tech support scams, seniors should:
- Be sceptical of unsolicited calls or messages. Legitimate technical support rarely initiates contact without prior communication from the user.
- Verify the legitimacy of the support representative. Request the caller’s information, hang up, and contact the official customer support number to confirm their identity.
- Avoid granting remote access. Never allow unknown individuals to access your computer remotely unless you have initiated the request and are dealing with a trusted service provider.
- Install reputable security software. Use reputable antivirus and anti-malware software to protect against potential threats.
Romance scams target seniors who may be seeking companionship or love online. Scammers create fake profiles on dating websites or social media platforms, building emotional connections with their victims. They eventually request money for various reasons, such as travel expenses or medical emergencies, and disappear once the funds are sent.
Australians, in particular, have suffered hard against romance scams. ACCC Scamwatch reported 3,698 romance scam incidents in 2022, costing victims over $40m in losses. This is in light of internet observations compiled by Accumulate Australia pointing at 32.5 per cent of all Australians coming from the high-income bracket and using dating apps.
To prevent falling victim to romance scams, seniors should:
- Be cautious of strangers online. Exercise caution when communicating with individuals you’ve never met in person, especially if they quickly profess love or financial needs.
- Avoid sending money to someone you haven’t met. Never send money to someone you’ve only interacted with online, no matter how compelling their story may seem.
- Conduct online research. Research the person’s name, photos, and any information they provide. Scammers often reuse pictures or have a history of fraudulent activity.
- Share concerns with family or friends. Discuss online relationships with loved ones who can provide objective perspectives and help identify red flags.
Identity theft occurs when scammers steal personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, or credit card information. They can then use this information to make unauthorised purchases, open fraudulent accounts, or commit other financial crimes.
To prevent falling victim to identity theft, seniors should:
- Safeguard personal information. Keep important documents, such as Social Security cards and bank statements, in a secure place.
- Be cautious with personal data online. Avoid sharing sensitive information on social media or other websites unless necessary.
- Use strong and unique passwords. Create strong passwords and use a password manager to ensure each online account has a unique and secure password.
- Regularly monitor financial accounts. Check bank and credit card statements frequently for any suspicious activity.
Protecting oneself from cybercrime is crucial, especially for seniors who may be targeted due to their vulnerability. Understanding the various scams and following preventive measures can help seniors ward off cybercriminals and keep their finances secure.
The ASAG Reverse Mortgage
At ASAG, the well-being of our Australian senior customers is paramount, and we treat all personal information with the utmost confidentiality. We take rigorous measures to fortify our security protocols to guarantee our clients’ safety.
When it comes to securing your financial future through Retirement Planning, consider applying for the ASAG Reverse Mortgage, which allows you to tap into the wealth tied up in your home. You can reach us at 1300 002 724 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquiries about our equity release solutions.
Additionally, you can initiate the process by using the tool below to evaluate your available equity.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group has no business relationships with any company or government office mentioned.