Scammers target seniors. Here’s how to protect them

by | Feb 25, 2024 | Finance and Business

Whether they’re connecting with friends via social media, admiring photos of their grandkids or paying their bills, seniors are taking advantage of online tools to manage their lives. Unfortunately, fraudsters are increasingly targeting them for scams. Here are three ways you can help protect the seniors in your life.

Help them become scam aware
There are a number of scams specifically aimed at seniors. One of the most common is aptly named the “grandparent scam,” which is when they get a phone call or message from someone pretending to be their grandchild, asking them to send money urgently. In other cases, they’ll be contacted by someone claiming to be law enforcement officials or their bank, saying they need the senior’s help to catch a thief. Ultimately, the caller will try to get the person to send money or share their banking login info. As new scams emerge, warn older people about them so they know what to watch out for.

Protect their passwords
It’s hard to remember different passwords for all the secure sites and apps we use, so it can be tempting to use the same one over and over. But this puts you at greater risk – for example, if fraudsters get hold of the password through one app, they can access all accounts that use that password. Teach older people to avoid using passwords that can be easily discovered, like grandkids’ names. Every password they use should use complex phrases, have at least eight characters and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

Help them identify red flags
Whenever anyone unexpectedly contacts you and asks you for an urgent favour, that’s an immediate red flag. Fraudsters often ask to be sent gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency, which can be difficult or impossible to recover once given away.

Also, remind the older people in your life that their bank, insurance company and the Canada Revenue Agency will never email or text a link and ask them to click it and enter their password. If you or your family receive such texts or emails, you can report these to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre using their website or toll-free number (1-888-495-8501) or by forwarding suspicious texts to 7726.

Teach everyone in your family to weed out suspicious messages by looking for red flags like an email address that doesn’t match the company it claims to be coming from, a message riddled with spelling mistakes or a blurry logo in an email signature.

Learn more cyber security tips at bmo.com/security

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