Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Avoiding Elderly and Social Media Scams

Since almost every other blogger today is discussing the debt ceiling bill, I thought that I would be different and share some important information from both Norton.com regarding safety measures while online and Identity Safe.com discussing scams aimed at the elderly.

I found Norton.com: The Top Five Social Media Scams helpful.


We’re wired to be social creatures, and sites like Twitter and Facebook have capitalized on this to great success. According to its COO Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook draws 175 million logins every day.

But with this tremendous popularity comes a dark side as well. Virus writers and other cybercriminals go where the numbers are -- and that includes popular social media sites. To help you avoid a con or viral infection, we’ve put together this list of the top five social media scams.

5. Chain Letters
You’ve likely seen this one before -- the dreaded chain letter has returned. It may appear in the form of, "Retweet this and Bill Gates will donate $5 million to charity!" But hold on, let’s think about this. Bill Gates already does a lot for charity. Why would he wait for something like this to take action? Answer: He wouldn’t. Both the cause and claim are fake.

So why would someone post this? Good question. It could be some prankster looking for a laugh, or a spammer needing "friends" to hit up later. Many well-meaning people pass these fake claims onto others. Break the chain and inform them of the likely ruse.

4. Cash Grabs
By their very nature, social media sites make it easy for us to stay in touch with friends, while reaching out to meet new ones. But how well do you really know these new acquaintances? That person with the attractive profile picture who just friended you -- and suddenly needs money -- is probably some cybercriminal looking for easy cash. Think twice before acting. In fact, the same advice applies even if you know the person.

Picture this: You just received an urgent request from one of your real friends who "lost his wallet on vacation and needs some cash to get home." So, being the helpful person you are, you send some money right away, per his instructions. But there’s a problem: Your friend never sent this request. In fact, he isn’t even aware of it. His malware-infected computer grabbed all of his contacts and forwarded the bogus email to everyone, waiting to see who would bite.

Again, think before acting. Call your friend. Inform him of the request and see if it's true. Next, make sure your computer isn't infected as well.

3. Hidden Charges
"What type of STAR WARS character are you? Find out with our quiz! All of your friends have taken it!" Hmm, this sounds interesting, so you enter your info and cell number, as instructed. After a few minutes, a text turns up. It turns out you’re more Yoda than Darth Vader. Well, that’s interesting … but not as much as your next month’s cell bill will be. You’ve also just unwittingly subscribed to some dubious service that charges $9.95 every month.

As it turns out, that "free, fun service" is neither. Be wary of these bait-and-switch games. They tend to thrive on social sites.
Continue reading HERE.

Another helpful link has some questions and answers that sound like really good advice:

Norton.com: Expert Questions and Answers


Am I creating a security risk when I leave my computer turned on and connected to the Internet 24/7? A computer that is connected to the Internet is a computer that is vulnerable -- even if it is turned on and you are not using it. And as cybercriminals continue to invent new tactics to gain access to your computer and its data, your best defense is a strategy with multiple layers, so that one security feature supports another.

Be sure to have personal firewall, antivirus, and anti-spyware software installed and running. And supplement your security software with hardware protection such as DataBreaker, a device that automatically disables a broadband Internet connection to your PC or Mac while it is turned on, but not in use. This essentially creates a physical barrier that hackers can’t get past.

So, for your always-connected computer, take the necessary steps to minimize risks by combining security software and hardware solutions 24/7.

Copyright (c) 2010 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

This was helpful to me. I thought that it was safe to leave the computer on as long as I was logged out of the social networks sites. But according to this question/answer advice, it is better to shut down the computer when not in use for long periods of time. Probably helps save on electricity costs, too.

I hate getting chain letters via email. Usually I just delete them but sometimes I have to inform the person who sent one to me not to send them anymore!!

Speaking of scams like the "cash grab" example above, I would like to suggest that you tell the elderly people in your life not to fall for the "grandson in trouble" scam. This is often done via telephone. One type of this particular scam goes something like this:

The caller may pretend to be a policer officer claiming that "we have your grandson ________ (sometimes they know the name) in custody for (drinking and driving, taking or getting caught with drugs etc.). In order for this crime to not be reported, please send (money - amount may vary) to this address and the charges will be dropped.  His parents and employer won't have to know about this incident." The scammer may even have a young man pretending to be the grandson get on the line and speak to his grandparent. AWFUL...ISN'T IT??  The grandparent may think that he/she is helping the grandson.  But in actuality, he/she is being scammed.  As this site, Credit Identity Safe.com informs us, the elderly people being scammed are often women who are widowed.  They are very often targeted because they came from an era of trustworthiness.


In the US alone, there are almost 15,000 criminal organizations that are trying to scam the elderly. Each year that passes, these thieves and con artists will net more than $40 billion dollars from their victims, and that amount continues to rise. Everyone is susceptible to a scam of some kind, but seven out of ten of these criminal acts will be geared toward senior citizens.

Most men will die long before their wives, and these older women will sometimes have to take care of their finances alone. If the husband dealt with the financial work by himself, these women will be at a high risk for being contacted and scammed by con artists.

Thieves will create highly sophisticated schemes that can reel in educated adults and war veterans in a way that is simply shocking. Criminals will move quickly and try to pull off the scam before a family member can notice that something is wrong. By the time the police have been contacts, the con artists will have moved on to a new victim.

Con men will use many different tricks to get an elderly victim to hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars, merchandise, and jewelry. In a few cases they will even trick their victims into handing over their lives and everything in it, via a new power of attorney document. The abuse against the elderly, physical as well as financial, can go on indefinitely, for the victim may be too afraid or embarrassed to alert the police or their family members.

Almost all of the schemes and scams committed have been classified as “transient crimes”. The reason for this description is the fact that they use home repair and diversionary tactics, such as asking a victim to allow them into their home to call a tow truck for their car.

I was so shocked to learn that scamming is a billion dollar industry!

Why Are the Elderly Most Susceptible to Fraud?
Elderly victims generally grew up in an era that bred trust. Most of them could have a verbal contract, and trust that the other will hold fast to their word. Baby boomers knew their neighbors, and although it was not a perfect world, most people felt safe.

Senior citizens are also targeted because they might happily begin a relationship with an honest looking stranger when they become lonely. As their kids grow up and move away to create their own families, elder parents may live in a big house that suddenly feels empty.

Memory is another factor for the increase in elderly fraud. As we grow older, our memories may begin to fade or we may simply begin to remember things incorrectly. The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a study and found that the elderly are ten times more likely create a memory of data that is false, and they will also believe that the information they received is true.

As we age, our bodies will begin to deteriorate over time and diseases such Alzheimer’s and dementia could cause a senior citizen to hand over bags of money without realizing it. These mental diseases can also leave these victims open to new scams and fraud. Consumers assume that con artists work alone, but in most cases they are a part of a larger network. Once one of them has successfully scammed a victim, they will alert another group and new criminals will take the place of the old. Scammers, who work alone, may even contact their previous victims to get more money from new schemes, and some senior citizens have been tricked into handing money over to the same group or criminal repeatedly.

Hat Tips:

US Norton.com

Credit Identity Safe.com


Susan Smith said...

Hi Christine,

This is some helpful information… thanks for posting it.

It sounds much more interesting and useful than the debt of one nation under God.

When the Son sets us free from debts we owe, then we are free indeed (John 8:36).

The sun is shining in South Carolina, and you are shining beautifully in California too!

Much love to you and your readers from the east to the west! (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Thanks Susan! I'm glad you found the info helpful. I am so sick of the debt crisis debacle and couldn't get motivated to post about it today.

It's a bit hot today in Southern CA, but can't complain because the sun is shining brightly! Have a few errands to run then it's pool time!

Thanks again for your beautiful newsletter that you allowed me to post over the weekend. I'm sure that many readers were truly blessed by it. Your essay got a thumbs up from a reader on Facebook!

Love & God bless!

Susan Smith said...

Thanks for letting me know about the “thumbs up” on Facebook. I had an account for three weeks, but disabled it… too distracting for my lifestyle.

Actually it kept me from my schoolwork in clinical counseling!

You have my thumbs up for providing so much wisdom to the world! Enjoy the clean water!! (ss)

GMpilot said...

That John quote from Ms Smith was rather good, but...

“If I owe Smith twenty dollars and God forgives me, that doesn't pay Smith.” -RG Ingersoll

This post was a public service; I actually learned something new. You are to be commended for posting it, hostess.

Christinewjc said...


I can certainly understand why! Facebook can be distracting! I mainly use it to link to my blog. Several people have discovered (and like) Talk Wisdom as a result of the FB "Networked blogs" link.

I didn't get to swim today. Too many errands. I am golfing tomorrow (after not playing for over a year...yikes!) but Thursday will definitely be a swim day!

How is school going for you? How many years of studying left? I commend you for pursuing such a wonderful (and needed) career!

Christinewjc said...


Ummm....errr....WHAT???? You have the uncanny habit of taking Scripture out of context. I think your comment represents one of them.

I'm glad you liked the "public service" post. Please pass it along to those you know who might benefit from being aware of the terrible scams out there. I have heard too many stories about elderly people being scammed. It's really terribly sad and disappointing to know how ruthless some people can be.