One thing you have to look out for as a senior is the scam or con artist. As we get older, our mind begins to play tricks on us and there are plenty of crooks who are willing to take advantage of this.
Added into this is the technology factor—many of us are not tech savvy and don’t know how to protect ourselves from these scams or the fake news that is predominating in this politically charged culture.
Here are tips on how to avoid scams and fake news:
1. Always be skeptical — I know, being skeptical of everyone may not seem like a great personality trait. But we strongly urge you to take the position of “trust but verify.”
If someone calls you claiming to be from the IRS or Medicare, they may very well be legitimate. Ask them for their name and contact information, but call the main helpline for these organizations.
If the group has no clue about the call you received, chances are you just avoided a scam. This goes for any number of organizations.
In recent years, there have been scams claiming to be your bank, the power company, and Microsoft (or Apple) support. As soon as people learn about one, con artists start another. So, it’s a good idea to just stay on the alert when receiving a call or email.
2. Never give out personal information — With just a few bits of personal info, a hacker can steal your entire identity and wind up emptying your bank account. Never, under any circumstances, give out your personal information such as your password, ATM PIN, or banking information.
If someone calls saying they need your password to reset an account, chances are it’s a scam. And please, whatever you do, do not give your banking info to that nice Nigerian prince who needs help moving some cash around.
3. Consider the source — In 2016, seniors reposted more fake news than any other age group on social media. Once you start sharing it, these untrue stories spread like wildfire.
With the 2020 election looming, it’s expected to get worse. As a rule of thumb, always look at the source of the information. If it’s from a reputable news source such as the Associated Press, then you should be able to find it on reputable websites. Then it’s probably safe to repost.
If you still aren’t sure, check out Factcheck.org or Snopes.com. These sites catalog fake news stories and help dispel the myths.
Fake news and scams are becoming ubiquitous, especially with the rise of Internet usage amongst all age groups. Seniors, however, are particularly susceptible to these cons. That’s why it is important to be vigilant and think carefully before you do something you may regret later.