COVID-19 has been a strain on everyone, but elderly people have been hit particularly hard. They’re the most at-risk group of citizens and have spent the better part of the last year-and-a-half practicing self-isolation and social distancing. As if the time spent alone and the intense fear of contracting the virus aren’t enough to worry about, COVID has also brought about a slew of new online frauds and scams directly targeted at the elderly population. As technological shifts have arisen to accommodate the pandemic, so have online scammers adapted their techniques to take advantage of our elderly loved ones. Continue reading for more information on COVID-related scams and other frauds facing seniors in 2021.
Work from home (WFH) mandates demanded a need for strong video conferencing tools, like Zoom. Video conferencing usage skyrocketed, and many people began to use the software for work purposes and for personal reasons as well, Families used (and continue to use) it to keep in touch with one another while socially distanced.
Scammers, seeing an opportunity, began creating fake Zoom web domains so that they could send out mass emails and text messages to unsuspecting people. In the body of the text or the email, the scammers would say something along the lines of “You missed a Zoom meeting! Click the link to go to your meeting”. Once the link is clicked, the scammers could gain access to your personal information or download malicious software onto your computer. Warn seniors never to click an unsolicited link labeled as ‘Zoom’.
Vaccination Card Scams
A lot of people posted pictures of their vaccination cards on social media, leaving them exposed to frauds and scams. Giving out your full name, your birth date, and medical information is never a good idea. It gives schemers access to information that they can use for identity theft.
Never post your vaccination card on social media. If you’d like to inform your online network of your vaccination status, do so with a status update rather than a post of your vaccination card.
Online Dating Scams
Another technique online scammers use involves some romantic trickery. The scammer will often pose as someone they are not and find targets on online games or online forums. Once they’ve acquired their targets, the scammers will feign romantic interest and lure them to less-monitored online platforms such as Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger.
Once there, the scammers will start asking the target for money, using fake selfies and flowery language in an attempt to trick them. If someone asks you for money online, you should always say no. You should also deny any requests for any requested pictures or videos of yourself.
Fake Online Shopping Schemes
Fake deals and giveaways are probably some of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to online frauds. The only difference is that the fake websites look more legitimate and real than ever, making it difficult to identify the scam.
Basically, scammers create fake online ads that boast amazing deals on popular products. After you enter your credit card information, a lot of the time you either won’t receive the product you ordered, or you’ll get an inferior product.
The best way to avoid this scam is to avoid clicking advertisements online, especially on websites that you aren’t very familiar with. If you want to buy something you see in an online ad, search for the product on the company’s website instead of clicking the ad itself.
Medicare Card Fraud
Many COVID scammers have started emailing and calling elderly people and claiming that they are from Medicare. The scammers will offer COVID-related medical benefits if you can verify your Medicare status by giving them your Medicare ID number.
The best way to avoid this is to cease all communication with whoever is offering you these benefits. They are not real, nor are the benefits they’re speaking of. Do not engage with anyone offering free COVID medical benefits, they do not exist.
Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal Scams
Peer-to-peer payment software programs have made splitting dinner bills much easier – but they’ve also created a huge opportunity for online con artists.
What often happens is you’ll receive a sum of money on one of your accounts. That sum of money will then be followed by a message saying the funds were sent accidentally and the scammer will request the money back. Little do you know that the money sent to you was sent from a stolen debit card, creating a web of online thievery that you’re now caught in.
Be extremely careful when sending or receiving money through peer-to-peer payment apps. If something doesn’t look right, report it to the app’s customer service team so they can investigate it.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Elderly individuals may have a harder time keeping up with the new technologies and dealing with new scams. While such struggles are normal, they are not things that seniors have to deal with on their own. Professional companion care services are available to assist elderly individuals in many daily activities.