It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, though many
of us saw the clear signs weeks before Halloween that the holidays
were fast approaching. The holidays, which start with the awesome
holiday of getting candy from strangers, are all about spending
time with family, giving thanks and celebrating in the notion
that all of us are from the same place and just need to get
along and be friends.
a dark side to the holidays.
As previously mentioned,
the holidays ramp up the season of stealing – in this
case, fraud, ID theft, financial exploitation,
hacking, etc – and while targets are plentiful, especially
online, the bigger targets are those who are elderly.
The baby boomer generation
has mostly hit sixty-five this year, enabling them to Medicare,
but also in the interesting position of being caregivers to
both their parents and their kids. They are also the generation,
along with their parents, who are finally jumping on the Internet
and online bandwagon and who are probably still learning the
tricks and trades of web surfing, while also teaching the art.
I recently read two
interesting pieces in terms of the baby boomers and their rise
online – one, many of these baby boomers were pioneers
or were a part of the very start to what we now call the Internet.
Those baby boomers who started in IT and continue in IT are
the ones who saw the very beginnings of what would eventually
become email, cell phones, and yes, the Internet.
The other was about
how these same IT folks were at the forefront of the big data
boom that’s happening in businesses right now; they are
the pushers towards it.
every baby boomer takes to the Internet and those that do might
still need help. And this is where scammers find their bread
I worked for a computer
consulting business while still in Arizona and I had gotten
a call one day from one of our clients. She was a baby boomer,
maybe in the middle of the age range, but such a nice lady;
she was also pretty computer savvy but knew when it was time
for help. So she called me one day in regards to a strange call
she had received the day before.
She basically gets a
call from someone with a heavy accent who told her her computer
was infected and that in order for the virus/malware to be removed,
she would need to basically hand over the information about
her computer and most likely, her credit card number and if
she would please, her social security number as well.
Here’s where this scam fell apart, for the scammer –
one, we were this lady’s computer repair company. If she
had a virus, she would be coming to us to remove it. Second,
we had just purchased her a brand new computer, which she had
gotten about a week prior. Third, she was smart and saw right
aren’t so lucky, especially those who are elderly or elderly
and not aware of how computers and technology work. Just for
your knowledge, no one can call you up and claim there’s
a virus on your computer. The only people who should call you
about a virus on your computer are the computer shop that should
be removing the virus or the family member/friend that you’ve
insisted remove the virus for you. This type of scam seems to
be perpetrated outside of the United States, but don’t
be fooled into a false sense of security; some scammers claim
to be law enforcement in order to get the info.
And speaking of calling,
one of the biggest scams lately is that of a scammer calling
a senior citizen and claiming to be a grandchild. Obviously,
this can be concerning especially when this ‘grandchild’
claims to be injured or hurt; the scam in this however is that
the grandchild is hurt in the Philippines or Russia or China,
which at that point begs the question – “why are
you calling me long distance and not say, the police or an ambulance
Sadly, several people
do fall for this and end up wiring money through Western Union,
usually a lot of money like thousands of dollars’ worth.
And money through Western Union cannot be traced nor is ever
refunded (believe me, I know).
What makes the holidays
worse is because seniors are expecting calls and responses from
children and grandchildren, either through the telephone or
the computer. And a recent study has revealed that as we age,
the portion of the brain that basically triggers our gut reactions
against anything suspicious begins to diminish, making it hard
to decipher whom to trust and not trust.
So how do we
protect our seniors from getting scammed?
Well as one Fed Ex employee
did, they notified the senior of something suspicious when making
a delivery. The employee was delivering a certified letter in
the amount of thousands of dollars and he just had to question
it, asking if the senior truly wanted to give money to this
person. The senior of course had no idea who that person was
and luckily, was spared from a scam.
With seniors and baby
boomers flocking online, it’s important that we –
as the generations who grew up and essentially tested the Internet
for them – sit down and explain the dangerous. We should
know by now that most companies won’t send an email asking
for your password (you did know that, right?) and that anything
that hi-jacks your browser insisting that your computer is filled
with a bazillion viruses and needs to be scanned is also fake
(it’s also a PITA when you’re trying to work and
then need to close out the entire browser).
Just remember how they
sat you down and explained why you should never take candy from
a stranger (unless it’s Halloween and you’re in
a group of other children and adults) or get into a car with
someone you don’t know; it’s the same principle,
except they shouldn’t tell you (or anyone) their password.
- Article by Regina
Woodard exclusively for Assisted Living Directory
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