Protecting Your Information and Data from Scammers
In the technology-driven world that we live in, we’re more connected than ever. Technology can be a beneficial tool, helping us to stay in touch with loved ones, easily order things to our home, and even monitor our health. Unfortunately, not everyone utilizing the internet has good intentions, and seniors, in particular, are the target of many scammers. We’ve put together some tips that everyone should know to help keep your information out of the hands of scammers.
How Scammers Work
Scammers are smart, sneaky individuals who are well-trained in the art of stealing data. They utilize a variety of different techniques throughout the year to try to get individuals to give up their information. For example, as we approach tax season, there will be an increase in scam activity related to phony IRS emails, texts, and calls. This is also the case during Medicare Open Enrollment in the fall months. Scammers like to prey on the vulnerability that these topics create in people.
Common Cyber-Scams
1. Urgent Communication: Phrases like, "Act Now", "Don't Lose Out", and "Your Account Has Been Compromised" are examples of common scare tactics that could be spam.
2. Unexpected Emails: Phishing emails after your information can look very real. If you’re unfamiliar with the sender or it feels suspicious, never click on links within the email.
3. Government Scams: As mentioned above, the IRS, Medicare, or Social Security, will not contact you by phone or email. Delete or hang up if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from one of these agencies.
4. Tech Support Scams: Closeout and do not engage with any pop-ups that claim to be tech support. Oftentimes, scammers will pose as employees of Microsoft or Apple.
5. Gift Cards as Payment: Legitimate businesses will never request payment in the form of gift cards. Cease communication with anyone asking you for payment in this form.
6. AI Voice Calls: Scammers are now using voice cloning to target family members with panicked phone calls, pretending to be, for example, a grandchild in need of immediate help. To avoid this, you and your family can establish a code word that can be used to confirm identity if a situation feels off.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these calls, texts, or emails, never let a scammer bully you into thinking you cannot reach out for help. It’s never too late to connect with a family member, friend, or professional regarding potential scam activity. Trust your instincts, and always know that you can end a conversation or transaction at any time if you feel uncomfortable.