How Senior Citizens Can Avoid Online Scams

Senior citizens often become the targets of online scams. This is mainly due to their lack of knowledge regarding technology, and there’s also the fact that senior citizens are often more trusting than other segments of the population. If you are a senior citizen, or if you care for a senior citizen, it’s vital to know how to both spot and avoid some of the most common online scams. A bit of information can go a long way in keeping you or a loved one from becoming another statistic or cautionary tale.

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

With the rising cost of medication and healthcare services, senior citizens do everything they can to save and stretch their dollars. Shopping online can uncover some great deals on prescriptions, but not all offers are genuine. Upon buying medication online and taking it, an elderly patient may discover the prescription isn’t effective, or that it actually causes more health conditions than it treats.

To avoid becoming a victim, senior citizens need to check site rating and reviews. Checking for the “VIPPS” seal linked to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy is another good idea.

IRS Scams

Senior citizens may receive a call from someone claiming to be an IRS representative, informing them they owe back taxes and can be arrested if they don’t pay. One of the most essential facts to recognize here, as a legal professional like Tully Rinckey can verify, is that the IRS does not initiate phone calls. Instead, they’ll send a letter in the mail. Additionally, the IRS will work with you to resolve a matter, not immediately threaten you with arrest. Anyone who receives such a phone call should reach out to the IRS through a number on its website.

Medicare Fraud

Scammers sometimes attempt to contact elderly individuals in the hopes of obtaining the person’s Medicare identification number. That information can be used to bill Medicare for fraudulent services while the scammer takes the money. Another similar scam involves criminals calling senior citizens and informing the elderly individual she or he needs to pay for a new Medicare card. With either scam, it’s good to reach out to Medicare specifically to see what’s going on.

Grandparent Scams

Some criminals manage to gather information about a senior citizen and call her or him pretending to be a grandchild. The criminal claims to be in dire financial straits, such as being jailed or stranded and asks the senior citizen to wire money. Wanting to help out her or his “grandchild,” the elderly individual sends the money.

To avoid this particular scam, senior citizens who use social media need to be sure they remain in full control of who can see their online profile and information. By making too much information public, the elderly individual can unintentionally set her or himself up to become the victim of a scam. Another way to head disaster off at the pass is to reach out to Tully Rinckey professionals and other elder law experts for information regarding common financial scams aimed at senior citizens.

Tech Support Scams

Senior citizens who hop online from time to time may stumble across a sudden pop-up on their screen informing them that their computer has a virus and they need to call a number. Upon calling the number, speaking to the “representative” on the other end and following the instructions, the person later discovers she or he has been duped. Such scams often involve voluntarily handing over credit card information, making a computer vulnerable to actual viruses and being involved in a fraudulent warranty program.

To sidestep this scam, senior citizens have to realize it’s often them who reach out to security and computer companies, not the other way around. Because criminals can make their phone number and website look like the real thing, senior citizens need to know how to determine a site is authentic.

It’s best that senior citizens get into the habit of educating themselves on the latest and most common scams targeting their demographic. A quick check can protect their money, as well as their peace of mind.

Posted in Law