Online banking is generally a secure way to manage money. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people—including seniors—who banked online or made online purchases rose significantly. Unfortunately, with the growth in online banking, there is a greater risk of scams. And, older adults are often more at risk from online scams due to unfamiliar new technology.
Suppose you are a carer or look after an older parent. In that case, it’s vital to educate them on using the Internet safely.
This article has tips on how to help seniors avoid online banking scams.
Why Fraudsters Target Seniors
Digital technology is new to many older adults. Some have had to go through a steep learning curve during the coronavirus crisis to learn online banking and shopping. With home visits limited and social restrictions in place, it was more difficult for seniors to do their regular banking.
Also, seniors may not be immediately suspicious of websites or emails that seem to come from their bank. So, they could click on phishing links and divulge sensitive information without knowing it.
Two Ways to Help Seniors Avoid Online Scams
Here are two ways you can help an older loved one to stay safe online.
1. Never click on links
Scammers can easily design websites or emails that look like the real thing. They can contain links that seem legitimate, but direct an unwary person to a fraudulent website. An example could be an email from the bank saying that there has been a security breach. The person is asked to click on the link to confirm password details. The link goes to a website that looks like the bank’s official website.
Educate elderly loved ones never to click on links. If they are concerned about their bank account, they should physically enter the bank account’s address in the address bar of their internet program. Make sure that the site is secure—check for the padlock sign—before logging in.
Or, they should call the customer service number on their bank statement.
2. Don’t give out details
Reputable banks never call their customers asking for sensitive information—passwords, Social Security numbers, or similar. In fact, it’s a good idea to educate older ones always to be suspicious of anyone unfamiliar who calls them. This includes charities asking for donations, offers to reassess home values, or investment schemes.
There is even the “grandparent” scam. Someone calls an older person and pretends to be their grandchild. The get the grandparent to guess who’s calling. Then they tell about some financial problems they are having and ask their “grandparent” to wire money using MoneyGram or Western Union. Then to “seal the deal,” they ask them not to say anything to anyone because they’re embarrassed about the situation.
To help seniors avoid these scams, tell them always to ask the company to send something in writing. They should also ask for the person’s name, business identity, mailing address, and return telephone number.
Suppose a senior loved one thinks they’ve been a victim of a scam. In that case, they should contact their bank immediately to report the incident.
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