My Cart  
You haven’t added anything to your cart yet. Once you add an item, you’ll see it here.

Total

Checkout
 

A How-to Guide for Having “The Talk” with Your Elderly Parents … about Internet Safety

Identity Theft News

A How-to Guide for Having “The Talk” with Your Elderly Parents … about Internet Safety

The face of the Internet is decidedly more wrinkled than many would assume.

The Pew Research Center determined 59 percent of seniors use the Internet. Shockingly, a new report by Limelight determined on average, Baby Boomers – who are now in their 50s and 60s – spend more time online than their 18-33 year old counterparts in the Millennial generation.

"As we age, we naturally want to stay connected to friends and loved ones more and the Internet provides the easy means to do that, especially when those friends and family are geographically dispersed,” said Jason Thibeault, Limelight’s senior director of marketing strategy and author of the report.

Seniors at Higher Risk of Fraud

In most ways, this trend is very positive for society. The Internet allows the elderly, particularly those who are homebound, to maintain connections with their friends and family, to keep up with the news, and to purchase products and services that they may not otherwise be able to access. In fact, the Gerontological Society of America recently conducted a longitudinal study that “found a positive contribution of Internet use to mental well-being of retired older adults in the United States, where Internet use reduced the probability of a depression state by one third.”

However, in the same way that the elderly are at a higher risk of offline fraud, they can also easily fall victim to online scams. Tragically, a study by San Francisco-based TrueLink Financial revealed “seniors are losing $36.48 billion every year to senior fraud, exploitation and financial abuse—more than 12 times the most widely reported previous estimate.” Additionally, the report determined 36.9 percent of seniors lose money to scams, exploitation, and abuse in any given five-year period. Of these, 6.9 percent lose $10,000 or more.

“Two trends are going to define the future of fraud: the advancing age of the average American and the increasing use of the Internet among seniors,” says Jeff Bell, CEO of LegalShield. “We are committed to partnering with families to protect one of our nation’s most precious resources: our elders.”

How Scams Work



To avoid a scam, it is helpful to understand how one is put together. Our partners at Kroll, the global risk mitigation leader that powers IDShield, offer this outline of the basic components of a scam:

1. Contact information is collected. The scammer has obtained some of your personal identifying information (PII) which might include, name, email address, phone number, address, and/or other information they will use to reach you. If contact information is not first obtained by the scammer, then they will lay out a bait of some sort-- a fake employment ad, for example, that might cause you to contact the scammer first and provide personal identifiers.

2. A compelling story is presented. This is where the scammer gives the reason they need PII and/or money from you and it can come in the form of a letter, email, text message, or phone call.

3. The fake reason may be one of the following:

• You won the lottery held in another state or country
(even though you never entered that lottery)

• You are offered a well-paying, work-from-home job

• Your credit card or bank account is in danger of being closed or your access to it restricted

• A relative is in danger and needs money

• A person in a foreign country needs your help getting a great fortune transferred to the United States

4. The victim is fooled. The target of the scam is asked for personal information and/or money. This is where the trouble starts—you give them your personal identifiers, access to your credit card or bank account or accept a bad check presented to you by the scammer.

5. The scammer is rewarded. Now the scammer gets to work using information provided by the scam victim to steal money, open new credit accounts, or trick the victim into giving money to the perpetrator of the fraud.

For many adults, avoiding scams like these can seem like a matter of “common sense.” However, for the elderly – particularly those who live in relative isolation and/or who suffer from even a mild form of dementia or memory loss – these scams can appear very legitimate. They need their trusted advisors, particularly their adult-aged children, to educate them about self-protection.

 

Tips to Protect Your Elderly Parents Online

In many ways, seniors simply need to practice the same principles any of us need to adopt when surfing the Web, chatting online, or making purchases through the Internet.

One easy way to educate your elderly parents about “best practices” of navigating the Internet is to give them a printed copy of articles explaining how to stay safe online (such as this one, as well as our recent articles about Craigslist and avoiding tax fraud). Having a printed copy they can keep next to their computer gives them a chance to refer to it whenever they have a question.

Our partners at Kroll also offer the following tips:

1. Be cautious when using a search engine. The first links listed are paid advertisements and may not be the site you seek. In fact, such an ad may lead to a site that claims to be something that it is not.



2. Be wary of email messages that ask you to provide personal information for any reason. No legitimate business asks you to provide sensitive personal information by email. Scammers will try to trick you into reacting quickly to a message that appears to be urgent so that you give up personal information before really thinking about what you’re doing. Delete such messages without responding.

3. Do not give an unknown person access to your computer (as in access to check the computer for viruses or to fix a problem with it) unless you initiated the call, having contacted a service that you verified as legitimate.

a. Neither Microsoft nor Windows will call you and tell you that your computer has a virus. This is a method some scammers use to access/control/hold for ransom your computer

4. Call ‘the victim.’ If you receive a call or email from someone claiming to be a relative in trouble, call that relative or another person to check on them. This type of call—where you are told a child or grandchild is in trouble--is a common scam and the caller will threaten harm if you call anyone else. This is just a scare tactic. Do not continue conversations with the scammer-caller.

5. Do not believe urgent demands. Understand that if someone demands that payment be made by wire transfer or pre-paid debit cards, then it is likely a scam. Scammers ask for payment this way because it is virtually impossible to trace and they can get the cash quickly.

6. Do not pay any money toward a debt that is not yours.

7. Do not pay fees to receive a prize that you supposedly won.

8. Hang up on anyone that you believe is a scammer. Do not push any buttons on your phone or speak to the caller. Also refer to this article on how to protect yourself from phone scammers.

9. Don’t trust Caller ID. Scammers can mask their number.

10. Reduce unsolicited phone calls. Register your phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov) to reduce calls from telemarketers. See if your phone service works with Nomorobo to block robocalls and telemarketers. (www.nomorobo.com)

The most important advice is simple: just begin the conversation.

You don’t have to know all of the answers, but you almost certainly know more than your elderly parents. Let them know you care about them, and you are only talking about this because you want to protect them (and not embarrass them). If you enter the conversation that way – by expressing love and a genuine sense of concern – you are almost certainly going to have a positive experience.

To learn more about how an IDShield membership can help you to protect yourself and your family, click here.

The face of the Internet is decidedly more wrinkled than many would assume.

The Pew Research Center determined 59 percent of seniors use the Internet. Shockingly, a new report by Limelight determined on average, Baby Boomers – who are now in their 50s and 60s – spend more time online than their 18-33 year old counterparts in the Millennial generation.

"As we age, we naturally want to stay connected to friends and loved ones more and the Internet provides the easy means to do that, especially when those friends and family are geographically dispersed,” said Jason Thibeault, Limelight’s senior director of marketing strategy and author of the report.

Seniors at Higher Risk of Fraud

In most ways, this trend is very positive for society. The Internet allows the elderly, particularly those who are homebound, to maintain connections with their friends and family, to keep up with the news, and to purchase products and services that they may not otherwise be able to access. In fact, the Gerontological Society of America recently conducted a longitudinal study that “found a positive contribution of Internet use to mental well-being of retired older adults in the United States, where Internet use reduced the probability of a depression state by one third.”

The Underground Economy and Your Identity

January 18, 2017

The past several years have been a bonanza for the underground economy as it relates to the purchase and sale of stolen private information and, specifically, to the sheer number of individual consumer records impacted. Numerous large merchants, hospital systems, and insurance companies have been hacked, exposing email addresses and passwords, credit card numbers, and personal profiles. These breaches have resulted in a considerable surge in private personal information being made available for sale in the underground economy. Throughout this same timeframe, security companies, researchers, and hackers have commented on the vast amounts of data that have been stolen and are now available for purchase online. Indeed, we have heard all too often from the popular media that billions of personal records have been compromised.

How to Respond to Suspicious IRS-related Communication this Tax Season

January 18, 2017

It’s that time of year once again. The holidays have come and gone and we’re all settling into a new year. With all of our resolutions aside, one thing is still left to do - our taxes. This season is also the time where IRS-related scams are plentiful.  

It’s important to know that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by any type of electronic communication, including email, text messages, and social media channels. Here, we share some IRS direction for handling a suspicious IRS-related communication.

If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information:

  • Do not reply.
  • Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Do not click on any links.
  • Forward the email as-is, to phishing@irs.gov. After you forward the email, delete the original email message you received.

Note: Please forward the full original email to   phishing@irs.gov. Do not forward scanned images of printed emails as that strips the email of valuable information only available in the electronic copy.

The “Dirty Dozen” of Tax Scams Investigator Insights The “Dirty Dozen” of Tax Scams

January 18, 2017

Accountants and tax return preparers aren’t the only busy ones during tax return filing season. Scammers and abusers of the system are active as well. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) strives to educate taxpayers and combat scammers through various resources, one of which is their annual list of top scams - “The Dirty Dozen Tax Scams.” - shared here.

Phone Scams

Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as scam artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things.

Phishing

Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never send taxpayers an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of strange emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.

Return Preparer Fraud

Yahoo Announces that 1 Billion Accounts Compromised in Data Breach

As you may have heard, Yahoo just announced that over 1 Billion accounts were hacked in a recent data breach. This information includes account holder names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, dates of birth, telephone numbers and, in some cases, security questions and answers.

Here are a few proactive steps you can take to protect your account:

Protecting your identity during the holiday season

December 7, 2016

Keeping your sensitive information safe

It's once again the time of year when consumers are making plans to visit relatives, host festive get-togethers. and. of course. hit the stores (or computer) for some shopping. Unfortunately,the flurry of activity that goes hand-in-hand with the holidays presents a prime opportunity for a data thief to practice his trade. With that in mind, put the protection of sensitive personal information at the top of your holiday to-do list.

 

Kroll's Investigators offer the following tips that can help consumers keep their sensitive information safe:

 

Tip #1: Practice safe shopping in stores

»  Before you hit the stores. take stock of what you bring along in your purse/wallet. Remove unnecessary key identity components. Make a list of what remains so you'll know what is missing if your purse/wallet is lost or stolen.

Shopping Online Safely

December 6, 2016

The number of online shoppers in the United States is projected to surpass 200 million in 2015. The ease and convenience of shopping from just about anywhere, avoiding crowds and not having to find a place to park are just a few things that make shopping on a retailer’s website an attractive option.

However, with convenience comes caution. Concerns about payment data security and other personal information makes some consumers shy about conducting their shopping via the internet. The following tips, if practiced, can bring about a sense of security while conducting online transactions:

Take steps to shop safely

1. Be Choosy. Don’t click indiscriminately on a link that you find in an unsolicited email or pop-up advertisement. Choose only well-known websites that have an address that starts with “https” when you get to the point of providing your payment information during the purchase process.