Top Tech Scams that Target Seniors
Updated: Sep 30
As internet use becomes more widespread, the number of older adults switching to technology increases. For many, though learning to use digital communications is akin to facing a brand-new language.
Threats of malware and viruses, such as trojans, spyware, bots, and worms, are scary. And when a seemingly nice person offers to fix these dreaded "infections" over the phone, it’s all too easy to succumb to their scams.
Technological scams aimed at older adults are widespread, costly, and on the rise. According to the FBI, more than 92,000 fell victim to tech scams in 2021. The associated amount of loss revenue for these totaled more than $1.7 billion. This represented an increase of 74% from the previous year. Hence, it is crucial to educate yourself about these scams and create a plan so that you (or the senior you love) do not fall prey.
Top Technological Scams Targeting Elders
#1 Sweepstakes or Lottery Scams
At times, these scammers impersonate legitimate sweepstakes companies such as Publisher’s Clearing House. These build trust with their victims. As you would expect, there is no prize. And some of these scammers are so good that they keep going back and defrauding the same victim.
#2 Tech Support Scams
Among the most common elderly technological scams (and the ones most relevant to us at 208Geek) are the ones that involve “tech support agents.” Scammers use tried-and-true scripts to lure their victims. The call often begins with a cold call. But it could also originate from a pop-up or email saying that the user’s computer is infected with a virus. The message also includes directions about how to reach the “help desk.”
What’s more, some scammers offer to take remote control over the user’s computer. Warn everyone you love that legitimate companies don’t call to offer this type of service. Also, don’t click on a link or call the number provided in an email alert. Instead, find the customer service number to make sure you are speaking with the right company rather than a scammer. These fake techs may claim to work for Microsoft, Apple, McAfee, etc. They begin with a few questions about which type of operating system the person uses so that they can adjust their script accordingly. Yet, their level of deception doesn't stop there. Don’t let them access your computer using programs such as “TeamViewer” or “LogMeIn,” where they run fake diagnostic tests to prove their legitimacy.
Though the process seems legit, the scammer uses commands designed to create system errors. Once they have convinced their victim that the device is infected, they ask for payment through untraceable channels such as wire transfers, gift cards, or even cryptocurrency. The easiest way to avoid this type of scam is to bring your computer into an actual computer repair center if you suspect malware infection.
#3 Phone Scams and Robocalls
The final technological scams targeting elders we will discuss today are robocalls and other phone scams. These scams take advantage of sophisticated automated phone systems to call large numbers of people around the world. Though there are some legitimate uses for this technology, robocalls are commonly used to scam trusting elders who answer their phones.
These calls include information about warranties for autos and other devices. They inform the victim that these policies are ready to expire. So, they ask the victim to send payment to avoid a lapse in coverage. Scammers tend to spoof their phone numbers to appear as reputable organizations, so be careful!
Another popular way scammers use phone calls is for them to call and ask one simple question: “Can you hear me?” When the person answers “yes,’ the response is recorded. Then, the scammer hangs up. The criminal uses this voice signature to confirm fraudulent charges on stolen credit cards and such.
Yet another involves a person claiming to call regarding an “impending lawsuit.” The victims of these scams receive a frightening, urgent call from someone claiming to be the police or another government agency. Ultimately, the person who answers is told they must pay a specific amount by a certain date, or they will be arrested and/or sued.
How to Avoid Technological Sca
ms that Target Elders
The best way to avoid these scams is to be aware that they happen. Conduct your own research before agreeing to anything over the phone. Caller ID is a great tool to keep you from answering calls from unknown numbers. Always remember, if it is real, the person will leave a voicemail. Verify the phone number with the associated company.
If you have any doubt at all, hang up. Avoid answering questions with a simple “yes.” And if you suspect your computer has been infected with a virus, rely on a professional computer repair shop in your local area. If you live in Meridian, Idaho, and need your computer repaired or scanned for viruses, give us a call today at 208Geek!
About 208 Geek in Meridian, Idaho
Owner/Operator Jacob Van Vliet began building and repairing computer systems for friends and family out of his home in 2001. Jacob was receiving so many requests for computer repair, that in the Fall of 2005, he opened 208 Geek with the vision of providing outstanding service and peace of mind. He has committed 208 Geek to delivering unparalleled, friendly, and professional service, with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.