two seniors smiling at a computer screenIn the 21st century, many of us have become tech savvy enough to avoid common internet scams, but there is a group that is still consistently targeted: senior citizens. Older individuals tend to be more susceptible to online fraud and identity theft because of their lack of experience with new technology.

Although there are many benefits of seniors using the internet, such as keeping up with family and the latest world news, they can fall victim to scammers. Whether they click a link that downloads malware or encrypts personal data, we list the common internet schemes that your senior loved ones should watch out for.

1. Fake Charities

One of the most insensitive scams out there is the illegitimate charity scheme. Fraudsters take advantage of recent tragedies or sensitive causes and try to gather fake donations. A senior may not know what to do when a message pops up on the screen asking for money to “save the animals,” but the best advice you can give is to simply shut the computer down.

2. Grandparent Scams

A common target of seniors is known as the grandparent scam, in which the scammer contacts an unsuspecting person posing as their grandchild. The scammer makes an urgent request for money, suggesting that person’s grandchild is in trouble. Many seniors fall for the message and wire money to an account they believe belongs to a family member.

3. Online Dating Sites

Lonely seniors looking for love may sign up for a website like Dating for Seniors to find a new companion. Unknown to them, the person on the other end of the computer could be a scammer in his or her 20s. After several online conversations, the person posing as a senior citizen begins asking for personal information and may even request to borrow money.

4. Online Pharmacies

The affordable cost of medications delivered to your doorstep is often appealing to seniors. However, when you’re unsure if an online pharmacy is a trusted source for medication, it’s best to put the credit card away. Show your older loved ones how to identify when a website is secure because the outcome could be financially or physically devastating.

Tips to Protect Personal Information Online

Many of our aging family members grew up in a time before there was color TV, internet and smartphones. It can be a challenge to adapt to what has become second-nature to the younger generations, but we have three quick tips to help seniors avoid the theft of personal information while surfing the internet.

  1. Safe and secure passwords: Keep a different password for each account that would be challenging for the average person to guess. Avoid birthdays, family and pet names.
  2. Social media safety: Be careful what you share! Your profile can be complete without a birthday, address and phone number listed.
  3. Avoid emails for unknown sources: If the sender of an email is a name you do not recognize, mark it as junk and move on. Urgent messages will come to you via the mail or phone.

At West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation, we encourage our residents to use the internet and embrace technology. When you’re looking for a skilled nursing facility to place a loved one, contact us to learn more about admission.