Advice for Seniors
to Avoid Scammers
First, let me say I'm not some kid talking down to his elders.
At 69 years and counting, I'm one of you.
The major advantage I have over most seniors is that I've been
in the computer industry for 45+ years and I've seen most of
these movies before.
Although there are thorough instructions on protecting your money and your data
on The Rules Page,
the amount of detail there can be a bit overwhelming.
But if you are on the Internet, you cannot ignore those Rules!
I strongly recommend having a trusted friend—perhaps a younger member of
your family— go through The Rules with you.
Here are the most common scams aimed directly at seniors. If you find
yourself with situation that matches one of these, immediately stop
what you are doing!.
Web Browser Scams
The most common one I've seen is a pop-up window,
often in RED,
saying something alarming is wrong with your computer and you need to click
something, or call someone immediately!!!
NO! There is nothing wrong with your computer! Don't click on anything or
call anyone (other than a friend or relative)! Either kill the browser
(the whole window, not just the tab), or reboot your machine.
There are dozens of email-based scams out there, but they all have one or more
of the following things in common:
- They are not from someone you know,
- They phrase the situation using urgent language,
- They want you to send money / buy gift cards / use your credit card, and/or
- They want you to click a link.
If the email matches any of these items ... STOP!
Find someone else to look at the email with you. This is not being silly,
this is being safe!
Like with email scams, the phone scams have certain patterns they follow.
If you have even the slightest doubt about the call you are on
Hang Up Immediately!
Here are the most common variations on phone scams:
- The person claims to be with the Social Security Administration
and wants your Social Security Number "to verify they are talking to the
right person." They are not with the SSA. This is a scam. HANG UP!
- The person claims they are with the IRS and that you owe some
large amount of back taxes. The IRS never will make this type of call.
They also won't ask you to go buy gift cards to pay your back taxes.
- The call is from a charity that you don't know. CAUTION: there are many
scams involving what sound like legitamite groups; the areas
with the biggest scams involve Breast Cancer and
The Local Sherriff's Youth Fund. Tell them to send you something in
the mail. They will balk and try to get you to do something now because
there is a matching gift. HANG UP!
- The person (often with an Indian accent) claims to be with Microsoft
Security (or Windows Security, Dell Security, etc.) and that they have
detected that there is a virus on your computer.
Don't even bother talking to these people. HANG UP NOW! This is a scam,
pure and simple. I get as many as 5 to 10 a week of these calls.
- None of these companies will ever contact you.
- None of them know anything about the current state of your computer.
- None of them will ask for you to install software so that
they can "check" to see what is wrong.