Monday, September 8, 2014

Adapting to an Online World and Avoiding Internet Fraud: Helpful Tips for Seniors

Mark Mandell, Esq.

As more seniors adapt to an online world and increase their web use, they can become victims of Internet Fraud if they are not careful. Because of their late-adoption to the Internet, seniors can be easier targets for Internet and email scams.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recently listed Internet Fraud as the sixth most targeted scam towards seniors. Perhaps the most common examples of these online schemes are email scams, whether it’s enticing seniors into an investment or a seemingly reputable organization asking them to “update” their personal information.

The NCOA lists health care, counterfeit prescription drug, and fake anti-aging products in their top five frauds targeted to seniors. In reality, all these scams are increasingly going online.

Fraudulent anti-aging products and prescription drug offerings frequently pop up in email inboxes. In Arizona, a fake Botox scheme ripped off seniors for $1.5 million – the perpetrators were convicted and jailed. Since 2000, the FDA has also investigated an average of 20 counterfeit prescription drug cases per year, up from five per year in the 1990s. There’s no doubt the Internet has provided an easier avenue for scam artists.

While Internet skills are highly valuable today, what steps can the older generation take to avoid these often financially crippling schemes?

If you have a suspicious email sitting in your inbox or are uncertain about an online purchase, the first thing to do is exercise caution, and check with friends and family. Don’t open unsolicited emails without consideration, and don’t be drawn in by flashy websites. Do your homework first. And here are some other helpful steps you can take:
  • Be cautious when dealing with a seller outside of the United States.
  • There should not be any reason to give out your social security number or driver’s license number over email or through an online auction.
  • Check with friends and family to make sure the website or seller is reputable.
  • Don’t judge a company solely based on its website: scam artists can construct flashy web pages in a very short amount of time.
  • Be cautious if you are receiving an unsolicited email. Do you remember signing up for an email list with this person or company? If not, the best option may be to simply delete the email.
  • Avoid wire-transfers. When purchasing online, a credit card is the best option. Then, you can dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • If you are dealing with a business, you can check the Better Business Bureau.

If you feel that you have been a victim of fraud or you have questions, you can contact Attorney Mark Mandell. Mr. Mandell has experience you can trust when it comes to defending your rights in cases where you have been scammed. Call today at (248) 380-0000.

And for more information on cyber security, you can check-out the FBI’s website for helpful tips:

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