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January 28, 2013

How Older Adults can Protect Themselves from Online Scams

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you take a scammer’'s bait, you’'re more likely to fall victim to an identity thief than receive the promised prize, fraud investigators warn. As noted in a previous post, older adults are frequent targets of scams and identity theft. Staying abreast of scam alerts posted in local newspapers and police department websites, plus exercising a healthy dose of skepticism, can help protect you from being scammed.

Looks can Deceive 

Some of the most popular scams have been around for a long time, but the Internet has made it easier for scammers to create the appearance of legitimacy. Email solicitations often link to fraudulent websites that so precisely mimic legitimate government, banking or charity sites that victims usually don’'t realize they’ve entered their personal information on a bogus website until they start receiving credit card bills for cards they never opened! 

Protect Yourself 

To protect yourself from scam artists and identity thieves, follow these tips: 

  • Be suspicious of offers or requests from people or organizations you do not know or have never contacted.
  • Never follow a link in an email requesting personal information. Identity thieves are adroit at creating look-alike web pages for banks, government agencies, credit card companies, email administrators, and others who have legitimate access to your personal information. Such organizations already have your personal information and do not request updates or verification over the Internet. Instead of clicking a link, type in the organization’'s web address yourself to access the official website. If in doubt, contact the organization’'s fraud department to determine the legitimacy of a request.
  • Exercise the same precautions with phone requests for donations or information. Don’'t trust caller ID; scammers can create bogus but legitimate-sounding IDs. Hang up if you get suspicious or feel pressured. Look up and call the organization’s official phone number to verify the legitimacy of any request. 

Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your personal information! Check back next time for even more tips on avoiding a scam.


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