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Gone Phishing

phishing scams older adultsNearly two in three adults report they use some sort of social media, up nearly tenfold just over the past 10 years.  While younger adult consumers are a large part of this boom, adults 65 years and older have been skyrocketing in their usage going from only 2% on social media a decade ago to more than 35% today.  So, the odds that your mother or grandmother may be tagging you on Facebook are getting higher every week.  So also the odds that your mom or dad and grandmother or grandfather may be scammed on-line are growing just as rapidly.  If you are a caregiver to an older loved one, help them to avoid these “phive” phishing scams that disproportionately target older adults:

  1. Click to the Stars: It used to be the checkout line at the grocery stores that gave everyone a titillating tale of Hollywood stars’ “real stories.” Now the stories pop up on a whole host of places that your older loved one may visit through social media.  Encourage them to only click on links they know…and appreciate that many of the scams that are trying to gain access to an unsuspecting visitor’s computer may look like a brand name people trust.
  2. A Quick Survey: It may be just a few questions as part of a “national survey,” maybe even with the promise of an honorarium or entering the respondent into a drawing, but it also could be an effort to gain important information about income or financial resources as the sponsors mine your older loved one to see what they are worth in order to target them later.
  3. Streaming Cheap: It is only a free trial that you can discontinue any time in order to get access to a movie still in the theaters or a vintage film that your older loved one enjoyed in their early years. But your loved one is stuck with a charge that may kick-in after the free trial period is over and they have forgotten to put a stop on their “purchase.”
  4. Coupons and Promos: Here again is a chance for cyber crooks to get the credit card information of an older social media surfer as they get what seems to be a really good deal on consumer goods. But if the hosts of the offer keep the credit card information for their own use later, mom or dad has been scammed.
  5. Deceiving Looks: It may seem like the brand name site, but maybe an extra letter is in the name or the logo only looks real. Or in the case of a Twitter offer, maybe it is not the name of the company at all, because it is easy to not read correctly when all the letters of a corporate name are jammed together without spaces in a hashtag address.

And the list can go on … because the Phishers continue to be very creative folks.

Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Professional and a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Please email your questions to


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