My Advice On How To Stop Seniors From Being Scammed

While I deal with a lot of business related IT problems, I am increasingly dealing with the aftermath of scams that target seniors. This is one example of the bad things can happen when it comes to these scams. And here’s another example where a scammer almost cost a couple $13000 CDN. Thus as of late, I have focused on exposing scams and educating you on how they work so that you don’t become a victim. Because to be completely honest, it angers me that scammers would target seniors and try to steal their money. In fact, six billion dollars a year in the US is lost to scams. And a person is a victim of identity theft every six seconds in the US. Thus I want to do my part to make life as miserable as possible for these low life losers who run these scams by exposing what they do and how not to be a victim.

So why do scammers target seniors? It’s very simple. Seniors by and large who fall victim to these scams are trusting people who don’t ever expect to be the targets of scams. They are more likely to be polite and willing to obey a person pretending to be in authority. Which makes them the perfect targets for scammers. And what doesn’t help is that if they do fall victim to a scam, they are often so ashamed that they don’t report the scam to anyone. Not family, or friends, and not the police. That allows the scammers to run free and scam more people.

I want to address the shame part first. If a senior gets scammed, you have to reinforce that they should absolutely not feel ashamed in any way. Anyone can fall victim to a scam. For example, YouTube star Jim Browning who goes after scammers got scammed into briefly deleting his YouTube channel. So if a person who deals in stopping scammers can get scammed, anyone can get scammed. As an aside, I’ll have advice as to what you can do if you get scammed at the end of this story.

Let’s look into how to stop seniors from being scammed. In my mind, it starts with education about the scams that are out there. And illustrating some common traits of scams that I have come across so that you’re able to spot scams, and avoid them as a result.

I’ll start with phone scams. Here’s some facts about phone scams:

  • Fact: A legitimate company such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Visa or Google would never call you on the phone saying things like “your computer is infected with viruses” or “you ordered items from Amazon and it looks like fraud”. If you get a call from any company saying things like that, hang up.
  • FACT: No company (again, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple to name a few) would call you and require remote access to your computer for any reason. If you get a call from someone asking if they can connect to your computer, hang up.
  • Fact: Companies don’t use call out technology that has robotic sounding voices that don’t reference you directly by name or by some other means of identification. If you get a call from any company using this sort of technology that fits that description, hang up.
  • Fact: Companies don’t ask to be paid in gift cards. If you get a call asking you to buy gift cards, hang up. You can copy and paste that for crypto currency as well.
  • Fact: The police don’t call you saying that you’re going to get arrested. If the police wanted to arrest you, they’d just arrest you. So if you get anyone saying that if you don’t co-operate with them, you will be arrested, hang up.

Pro Tip: Scammers will often use a sense of urgency to get you to do what they want. If someone is threatening to get you arrested or some other bad thing is going to happen to you, or is just trying to force you to do something if you do not comply, hang up as this is a scam.

But what if you get an email scam. Say like this one which involves Norton which is the most common email scam that’s going on at the moment:

It looks convincing. But it is pretty easy to see that this is a scam. For example, emails like this never mention the recipient’s name or any other information. That’s because they’re mass mailed out to random email addresses in the hope that someone will take the bait and call the number (which is no longer working by the way) that is in the email. The English in this email is on the suspect side as well, as that’s a hallmark of scams which almost exclusively are based in India and run by people who’s native language is not English.

Sidebar: The main reason why India is the hotbed for scams of all sorts is that the government and police aren’t interested in cracking down on this sort of crime. Thus scammers can operate without fear of getting arrested. And even if they do by some miracle get arrested, it is unlikely that they will face any serious punishment as stopping scams that prey on people outside of India isn’t a priority for the Indian government. That truly reflects poorly on the Indian government and police forces in India as they are basically aiding and abetting crime by not doing anything to stop scams like these.

Another way to tell if an email is a scam email is to check the email address to see where it is coming from. Here’s an example from another scam that I wrote about:

CIBC is one of the five biggest banks in Canada, but this email isn’t using an email address that ends in something like “”. Instead they’re using which is a free email provider with some paid features. That’s a sure sign that you should delete the email in question if it hits your inbox as it is a scam.

Pro Tip: Don’t click on anything in the email. That’s a great way to get hit with a virus.

Text message scams have become increasingly common in the last year or two. Take this one that purports to be from the Canada Revenue agency. It’s very well constructed and I can see how people would fall for it and become the victim of identity theft and theft of your online banking credentials in this case. Another popular scam is the extortion phishing scam. What is extortion phishing? It’s when the victim receives an email suggesting they have compromised in some way (usually it involves porn) and the scumbags behind the scam demand money, usually in Bitcoin which is untraceable to keep this from becoming public. Here’s an example of this scam. The fact is that your info was likely involved in a data breach of some sort, and was bought by someone who is mass emailing this out to thousands of people hoping that 1% will take the bait. Because even a 1% success rate for a scammer is tens of thousands of dollars in his pocket. The story that I linked to will have a lot of information as to how the scam works and how to avoid it.

Pro Tip: Don’t click on any links in text messages or emails that you get as that could infect you with a virus.

Finally, there’s the pop up scam. Where you’re just browsing for something using a web browser and a pop up appears claiming that you’re infected with a virus, or you’re doing something illegal, and that you need to call a phone number to resolve the issue.

  • Fact: Scammers use these pop-up scams to make money. They prey on concerned users who want to ensure their computer is secure, extorting money from them to fix problems and resolve threats that do not exist. Or to get into your computer to collect information to steal your identity.
  • Fact: While your internet security provider may offer technical support over the phone, they will not demand that you call them. Especially not via a random pop-up.
  • Fact: Your anti-virus or internet security software does not require you to call anyone in order to work. Threats are normally resolved within the software itself. 

So in short, If a pop-up is demanding that you call a number in order to resolve a security threat or fix a technical issue, it is likely to be a pop-up scam. I detailed one of these scams here and I list a lot of advice in terms of how not to be a victim of this sort of scam.

Pro Tip: Don’t click on any links in any pop up messages that you get as that could infect you with a virus.

But what happens if you do get scammed? You need to report it to your local police who can then give you additional directions. Beyond that, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has a website for scam reporting, while the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center is the place to go if you’re in Canada. Other counties have similar organizations for reporting scams. If your computer was involved in the scam, as in the scammers connected to it remotely, you should turn it off and seek professional help in terms of having someone look at it and fix (in the best case) whatever the scammers did to it or back up and reinstall everything if required.

In closing, these scams are constantly evolving and new ones are appearing every day. Which is why you need to be on your toes every time an email hits your inbox or you get a phone call. And that’s doubly important for seniors. Which is why you should take this story and share it with your parents, grandparents, and seniors in your life. And spend some time reinforcing this message so that they have the skills to avoid getting scammed. Because the more that this education gets out there, the less effective that these scams will be, and the more likely that the low life losers behind these scams will have to find something more honourable to do with their time.

3 Responses to “My Advice On How To Stop Seniors From Being Scammed”

  1. […] These days you have to be really careful as scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. And the second you let your guard down, it can really come back to bite you. Thus I hope that this article helps you to avoid this specific scam. And if you want other tips on avoiding scams, check out this article which provides advice on how to stop seniors from being scammed. […]

  2. […] thing by reporting this incident to the police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center as I suggested in this article. And that continued with the fact that she changed all her passwords to make sure that the scammers […]

  3. […] the advice that I usually give in terms of what to do if you get scammed, which you can find here. I was impressed by how CIBC handled this situation so kudos to […]

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