Constant advancement in technology has undoubtedly brought us amazing things. Thanks to computers, the internet and better cameras, we can now have online video chats with family and friends across the world! What is now considered normal, everyday technology would have been considered alien just a few decades ago. As with anything, however, some negativity comes along with it. There are people online who prey on those who are either uneducated when it comes to the ins and outs of the internet or simply not paying attention. Today, we’ll look at a few ways to stay safe online and avoid some common phishing scams that people often find themselves falling victim to.
First, let’s talk about the word itself. “Phishing” is simply a word created for the online scammer who is quite literally fishing for your information. Be it credit cards, social security numbers, or any personal information that may be floating out there. It is important to know what to look out for and what to avoid altogether.
Investment or pyramid schemes have been around almost as long as money and business, and it is no different in the online world. It’s easy for pyramid scammers to target seniors because many are saving for retirement and looking for ways to invest and increase their money. The easiest way to avoid a pyramid scheme is to live by the motto, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Always keep in mind that making money is usually difficult, and whether you are online or not, if the opportunity sounds too good to be true, you’d be well advised to treat it as such.
Email scams are on of the biggest phishing schemes to affect seniors. They are so prevalent at this point that most people jokingly refer to them as “Nigerian prince emails.” Luckily, these are usually the easiest to avoid. If it’s an email from a private address that you don’t recognize, or if the message contains lots of typos, or if they are asking for your personal banking information, immediately delete the message. It’s best if you don’t open the email at all. However, if you do open it, it’s okay. Just never reply, delete that message, and be on the lookout for more like it in the future. A good rule of thumb is if it isn’t an email from a friend or family member, or from a business that you have solicited, then don’t bother opening it.
The final phishing scam we will look at today is counterfeit prescription medicines. Often times, this will come as an email scam as well. However, we wanted to treat this as it’s own category since this particular scam is almost always targeted towards seniors. It’s tempting to click on the emails claiming to get you your prescriptions at a lower cost. However, often times these are counterfeit medications coming from outside of the U.S. and not FDA approved. If you are becoming concerned about the prices of your medications, talk to your doctor about reputable online pharmacies who can sell you your drugs at cheaper prices when you buy in 90+ day supplies. Additionally, your doctor or pharmacist can also talk to you about approved generic medications that will help to bring down your costs.
Technology improves by the day, and, on the whole, it improves people’s lives exponentially. However, just as with anything in life, it is important to know the risks and how to protect yourself. There are certainly people out there who are looking to take advantage of anyone they can. If you are equipped with the proper knowledge, you can easily avoid them and embrace all of this beautiful technology with open arms!