Unfortunately, seniors are a primary demographic and target for many financial scams. Fraudsters are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to trick seniors into disclosing their private information. Here are some common scams you should be aware of and how you can protect yourself against them.
Unfortunately, scammers tend to take advantage of those who are vulnerable during times of tribulation and uncertainty. Some of the common scams that many fraudsters are using to target seniors during the current COVID-19 pandemic include:
Seniors are receiving calls from scammers who are claiming to have medication or a COVID-19 vaccination to help cure the virus or counteract its symptoms. This is a financial scam where they demand payment upfront for a drug that doesn’t exist.
Investments in Research & Development Scams
Fraudsters are calling many elderly folks regarding potential investment opportunities for companies who are supposedly researching to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Many of these scams also ask for money or personal information to become a donor and help their “cause”.
Government Assistance Scams
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned the public about potential scams regarding government subsidies, fraudsters demanding fees or other charges, and attempts to get personal information. For updated information on the U.S. government’s response to Coronavirus, check their website.
Elderly homeowners are being preyed upon by false home sanitation offers to clean and sanitize their home. Many of these scammers interact by phone or through online offers and request prepayment then never provide services.
Cybersecurity Concerns and Malware Attacks
There has been a large increase in the number of fake websites and phishing emails that claim to provide COVID-19 prevention content. These sites and emails often contain malicious attachments and harmful links that can infect visitors’ devices with malware, threaten the security of your device and divulge personal information.
Tips to Protect Against Scams
Fortunately, protecting yourself or your loved one doesn’t have to be overly complicated, and can be done through a few common-sense practices:
- Avoid phishing scams and don’t click on any links from sources that you don’t know
- Be wary of emails pretending to be from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) or web addresses that end in “.int” as opposed to more common “.com” or “.org”
- Ignore any online or telephone offers regarding vaccinations because at this time none exist for COVID-19
- Make sure you research charities that are claiming to provide aid for coronavirus, avoid solicitations for donations, and don’t let anyone rush or pressure you into making a donation or giving your personal information
- Report suspected scams to the authorities
Seniors are also encouraged to use common sense and if they are uncertain, to speak with those they trust before acting.
If you or a loved one believes they’re being targeted in a scam, you should report it directly to the Federal Trade Commission online at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams#report.
Stay safe and don’t hesitate to hang up or ignore a suspected fraudulent communication!