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By Ashleigh, K-Staff
Long a target of identity thieves and fraudsters, senior generations are becoming victims of COVID-19 related scams at an alarming rate.
Seniors are vulnerable to scams and identity theft for a number of reasons:
The social changes and resulting uncertainty and fear we’ve all experienced in the past few months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have a magnified effect on seniors. Thanks to social distancing, they may be isolated, lonely, and anxious about their health or that of their families, making them more likely to respond to an ad or email that promises virus protection, a miracle cure, or just plain human contact. If you’re a baby boomer or older, be aware of these scams.
We discussed the many varieties of COVID-19 related fraud and identity theft. These types of scams continue to be big business for thieves. As of May 25, 2020, the FTC has reported $40.13 million in losses from scams related to the coronavirus epidemic.
And while there aren’t as many victims in the baby-boomer generation (and older age groups) as in younger generations, seniors lose significantly more money when they do become victims.
The good news is COVID-19–related fraud can be avoided with some good online hygiene. First and foremost, be alert. Don’t respond to or click on content containing any of the following known COVID-19–related scams:
A key component to many of these scams are overt or implied threats if you don’t cooperate or offers that sound too good to be true. And trust your instincts! If you receive a message through e-mail or social media that seems to be from a friend or family, but seems out of character for them, don’t respond and don’t click any link.
And while it may not fall into the traditional definition of a scam, there are plenty of opportunists out there offering masks, cleaning supplies, and other necessities who may be out to make a larger-than-normal profit (price gouging). This is not only unethical, it’s illegal. When it comes to purchasing masks and other supplies, stick to trusted friends and associates.
Stay connected, but stay safe. Online and over the phone, it’s easy to pretend to be someone else. It’s okay to ask why and verify. And it’s also okay to hang up or delete!
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, contact your financial institutions and notify the FTC.