It’s unfortunate that scams are common and target various people from different ages with different backgrounds, scammers are increasingly targeting older Australians. This is largely due to the fact that older Australians have a better income and are financially stable yet are vulnerable due to the gaps in their knowledge of technology. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to fall victim to a scam, many of which are sophisticated and slick.
Types of Scams
A common scam targets older Australians on dating websites. The men and women on dating sites have usually experienced a relationship breakdown or the death of a partner, and can be especially vulnerable at this time. A scam will pretend to be a real person and emotionally blackmail the victim for things such as finances or gifts. Unfortunately, the older person may be desperate in searching for a partner and will not recognise the warning signs that this is a scam.
Another common scam is receiving odd emails. These emails may state you have received an inheritance from someone you never knew or you may come across an invitation to join an odd investment. These investments may ask you to spend money in order to receive a ‘reward’. If you receive information similar to these two examples, it is most likely not real and should be avoided and ignored.
Another scam is one usually found on a website. You may be causally browsing the internet when a sudden pop up emerges on your screen, saying you have won the lottery or a competition you didn’t know you entered into. If you follow the steps on the pop up, they can steal your financial information or download a virus onto your computer. This gives the scammer access to your personal information, allowing them to steal your identity and/or your money.
Finally, a rarer scam involves a person attempting to sell you something in person. Some scammers will actually try the door-to-door approach and pose as a real business. However, when you buy a product, they will take your money, your financial details and produce a terrible product or none at all. Unfortunately, this scam is hard to pick. However, hints may include asking for payment immediately, not providing proof of their business, lack of identification and constant visiting. They may also not give you any contact details and state you must use their services immediately or not at all.
Protecting Older Australians From Scams
When receiving odd calls or door knocks from people trying to sell you something, always be prepared to ask questions. Ask them about their business and the functions of the business and be specific about your questions. Examples include:
- When did you begin your business?
- How many customers do you have?
- Who owns and runs your business?
If you receive odd answers or no answers at all, then it’s likely that the business is not legitimate. Even if you receive answers, it is still best to do a quick Google search and ensure all the information is correct. It is recommended that you do your own research into the business and what it stands for. Some suggest to also get legal advice to understand the risks of a scam and what legal rights you have if the deal falls through.
The most important element of protecting yourself – or your older loved ones – is protecting your personal information. When receiving a call or an online pop-up, do not ever give out personal information. Even if the call is supposedly from your bank, they should not be asking for your financial information as they should already have that on file. If this happens, hang up immediately and ring back the number of your bank and ask if they just called. Other tips include destroying all documents or pieces of paper you no longer use that hold financial information, having strong passwords and changing them regularly. You should also ensure your privacy information on your social media accounts is up to date. If you are unsure on how to do this, you may want to ask for help on protecting yourself online. There are IT specialists who can train older Australians on keeping safe on the Internet.
When checking your email account, delete all emails you receive from people you do not know or businesses you have not signed up for. It is also recommended if you do not recognise the address of the person sending the email that you do not open it. Instead, you can right click on the email and delete it straight away. Ensure you do not send emails or text messages containing personal information to people you are not close with. Banks, government agencies and businesses should not ask to receive personal information over text messages or emails. Instead, they will either call you to organise a face to face meeting if the matter is urgent.
You can also install anti-virus software on your computer which will stop viruses from downloading onto your computer. These programs do cost money and will be required to be updated regularly. However, this investment can be well worth it, as having your identity or financial information stolen is often costly and draining.
Sadly, it’s easy to fall victim to a scam, particularly if you’re in a vulnerable position. However, you can protect yourself and your older loved ones with just a few preventative measures. Be wary and cautious when it comes to your personal information and the decisions you make about who receives it.