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How to Recognize Online Scams

Lifestyle & Activities, Technology | August 17, 2018

These days, more and more seniors are buying computers and becoming active on the internet. Indeed, using social media and message boards is a great way for seniors to stay in touch with friends and family or even meet new people. Of course, there are two sides to every coin and anyone who uses a computer should be aware of the dangers that can come from the internet.  We’re talking about scams here.  Today, American Senior Communities would like to tell you about some common internet scams and how to recognize them.

Catfishing Scams

The term “Catfishing” came into prominence after a 2010 documentary exposed a dark side of the internet where imposters use fake social media profiles to defraud others.  While some catfishers are only looking for attention, others have combined these techniques with classic con-man scams to trick people into giving them money.  Unfortunately, seniors are especially vulnerable to catfishing because they’re less familiar with the inner workings of social media sites.

If you want to avoid being catfished, it’s best to be wary of anyone you talk to online and insist they verify their identity.  Catfishers may impersonate attractive singles, company representatives or even your own family members. If someone you do not know is contacting you via the internet, be sure to first find out if what they are asking for is legitimate.

Tech Support Scams

Scammers will use any method they can to gain access to your valuable information and they’re not above impersonating tech support employees over the internet or even over the phone.  The tech support scam involves contacting someone and claiming their computer has a virus and needs to be cleaned.  That person will then request remote access to your computer.  If you give them access, they use that opportunity to steal bank account information, social security numbers and passwords that could allow them to steal your money or your identity.

To keep yourself safe from the tech support scam, be careful about giving anyone remote access to your computer.  Tech support employees will never contact you unless you call them first, so if you don’t remember calling for help, the person you’re talking to is likely a scammer.  And if you’re having computer issues, take it to a reputable local shop rather than communicating with some faceless person over the internet.

While the internet has been a boon to modern life, it has also given scammers a new way to get into our homes and wallets.  It’s important to be aware that seniors are the number one target for scammers, so be sure to stay alert and be wary of anyone you’re talking to online.

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