WASHINGTON, DC, Aug 5 — The coronavirus pandemic has not only made seniors susceptible to a new deadly illness, it comes with two nasty side-effects, elder abuse, and elder fraud.
Lockdowns have made some of them vulnerable to neglect, causing them to feel rejected by friends and family. In some cases, they endure physical abuse from dodgy caregivers and family members.
And hapless and helpless seniors may be exposed to elder fraud when their Social Security checks arrive.
Indeed, these types of homegrown crimes have long been a danger for our aging population, but the threat of elder fraud, in particular, has gone viral as professional scammers take over with sophisticated methods of targeting lonely senior citizens. For example, the Federal Trade Commission reports that the bad guys were effective in seducing the 60-plus crowd into forking over $43.81 million using romance scams in the last three months of 2020; during the same period in 2019, such “crimes of the heart” netted the swindlers only $26.18 million. It can get pretty lonely when you are in self-isolation.
In addition, according to the National Association of Attorneys General, “government imposter scams, business imposter scams, and prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries scams were distant but still substantial Top 3 sources of financial loss for older adults in Q4 2020.”
The use of computers, cell phones, and the Internet saw an enormous increase during the pandemic.
More and more seniors adopted the technology, many of them for the first time, as a means of keeping in touch.
They began to shop online and make financial transactions via the Internet, thus becoming new targets for virtual con men.
The National Law Review [NLR} recently published a report, pointing out that “As we all have less social contact, many seniors are increasingly turning to technology as a social outlet. Individuals who knew to limit phone interactions with potential scammers may find themselves willing to engage in conversations just to have some personal contact. In addition, seniors are increasingly using online shopping and banking but may not have the technology savviness to protect themselves. In addition, criminals are quite adept at mining obituaries and social media to gather information to target their victims.”
Confirming the NLR’s report, Enterprise Bank & Trust corporate security officer Chris McCulloch says that financial institutions like Enterprise Bank reported increases of between 30 percent and 300 percent in the number of fraud attempts reported by retail and business customers alike. “Unfortunately, those hardest hit are often the unemployed or senior citizens.”
It is up to friends and family to help defend elderly neighbors and relatives against the growing threat posed by these elder fraudsters by keeping them apprised of the threat posed by the scammers. The online site CyberinsureOne says that “seniors who learn how to be more cautious and aware of online scams will find that there are many benefits to the Internet” and that “there are some basic safety practices seniors can use to help protect themselves online.” Their advice for older, first-time technology users:
- Sometimes an email offers a deal that is too good to be true. It is likely a fictitious offer or prize created to trick you into revealing private information, to wire money to a scammer, or to get you to install malicious software on your computer.
- If you have any concerns about whether you can trust an email or website, call the customer service phone number for the company or institution. It’s likely that a scammer is attempting to steal your private information so that they can access your bank accounts and other sensitive accounts. They might even use that information to steal your identity.
- Because someone can easily get personal information about you and then use it to trick you into believing they’re someone they are not, it is important that you are always cautious in communicating with strangers online, even if they do know information like your address, full name, the number of children or grandchildren you have, your pet’s name, etc.
We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...
As we prepare for what promises to be a pivotal year for America, we're asking you to consider a gift to help fund our journalism and advocacy.
The need for fact-based reporting that offers real solutions and stops the spread of misinformation has never been greater. Now more than ever, journalism and our first amendment rights are under fire. That's why AMAC is passionately working to increase the number of real news articles we deliver WEEKLY, while continuing to strengthen our presence on Capitol Hill.
AMAC Action, a 501 (C)(4), advocates to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, the rule of law, and love of family.
Thank you for putting your faith in AMAC!Donate Now