Smart Quiz! Do You Know the Most Common Digital Scam Affecting Seniors Today?
Answer: Malware Trickery
Scamming seniors into downloading malware is much easier than scamming other age groups. According to researchers, individuals over 65 are 34 percent more likely to be scammed and lose money than people in their 40s. Seniors are often targeted because they are more financially stable, but also lack digital literacy compared to younger generations who have grown up immersed in technology.
Getting seniors to download Malware unknowingly is one of the biggest scams affecting this age group today. Malware is defined as malicious software that causes a loss of data, damage to devices, or unauthorized access to private information. Viruses, trojans, and spyware are all common examples.
Malware benefits hackers and scammers by granting unauthorized users access to use your computer to commit fraudulent acts, or gain access to files and personal information, including financial data. Scammers can then use the information to make fraudulent purchases, open bank accounts, or create accounts in your name.
To protect yourself from harmful software that threatens your financial security, follow these simple rules:
Install quality spyware, anti-virus, and firewall software on your computer. PC Mag rates Bitdefender, Webroot, and Kaspersky among the top rated for protecting against and removing Malware. Beware of free protection, as it usually only addresses one or two of the elements you need to be protected against.
- Don’t open emails, click links or download attachments from people or organizations you don’t know.
- When opening links even from trusted senders, Put your cursor over the link to see where the embedded link leads BEFORE you click. Beware that many scammers are very good at making links look like they come from trusted brands. Look for things like typos and underscores between words. (bankofamerica.com *real vs. bankofamerica.xyz.com *scam, for instance.)
- If you ever suspect a company’s email to you might be fraud, you can look who really sent the email by inspecting the address in “From.” A real business will not come from a hotmail, yahoo, or gmail address, but will instead have the EXACT business name in the address. Feel free to give yourself permission to simply hit “delete,” knowing that if the company needs to contact you, there will usually be a message in your account on their site or you can call them to find out if there is a problem than needs to be resolved.
- Don’t click on social media messages from strangers.
- Investigate software before you install it. Malware often comes bundled with other seemingly “safe” software programs. Free software should be assumed to be unsafe, unless externally verified by another top rated website that you trust.
- Pay attention to what you’re downloading. When you download software, you will be asked to give permissions, usually in the form of pre-checked boxes. Uncheck anything that isn’t absolutely necessary for the software to function.
- Avoid self-installing software. If you get a pop-up that informs you that new software is about to be downloaded, Force Quit (Command+Option+Escape on Macs, Control+Alt+Delete on Windows) instead.
- Avoid clicking on error messages, especially if you are trying to leave a page or app. Instead, use Force Quit to exit the program.
- Get rid of spam. When you get spam mail, mark it as spam without opening it, if possible. This will help your email provider filter those emails out of your inbox or stop delivering them, period.
- There are many scams threatening seniors today. The increasing use of digital technology to use and maintain financial information makes Malware one of the most prevalent scams. You can get started on protecting your finances from this threat by following the steps above. Check back here frequently for more updates that help you maintain your financial safety.
Here’s to Your Financial Health!
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