As a senior citizen, you come from a generation that tends to be more trusting and that had plenty of time to build a nest egg. Unfortunately, these qualities make you a likely target for online scam artists.

Scammers have been targeting senior citizens through telemarketing frauds for years, but they are now turning to the Internet. Older Internet users are not likely to report the scams they encounter, which means these scammers keep operating without being bothered by law enforcement.

How Con Artists Steal Your Identity

Did you know that 10 percent of victims of identity theft are senior citizens? Identity thieves target older individuals since these people usually have good credit. Here is how you can protect your information and avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Use long passwords and make sure you have a unique password for each website you use.
  • Change your browser settings so that passwords are not automatically remembered and forms aren’t auto-completed.
  • Be wary of phishing emails. You can usually recognize these emails by looking at the sender’s email address.
  • Using a public Wi-Fi hotspot means the information you share can be accessed by hackers. Don’t use these connections to make online purchases or to log in to your email or online banking account.
  • Check your credit report regularly and look for unusual charges on your credit card accounts.

Beware Of Internet Users Contacting You

There is a wealth of data that is available via public records and via information that has been stolen by hackers. A con artist could use the information that is available to convince you they work for the IRS, for a banking institution you use, or that they are with Medicare.

These scammers typically create a sense of urgency and ask you to share more personal information with you. These scams can take the form of phishing emails, but some scammers personally contact their victims via email, social media, or over the phone to request more information.

Be extremely wary if you are directly contacted by someone who claims to work for the IRS, for a bank, for Medicare, or who claims that you owe money to a debtor. Some might claim to offer discounted prescriptions or that they can help you fix your computer that has been infected by a virus.

Investment scams are also a common way to steal money from senior citizens. If an offer sounds too good to be true, stay away from it.

And remember that there is no way to know who you are really talking to on the Internet. Scam artists will sometimes create fake social media profiles to impersonate the people you know and ask for money or ask you to click on a harmful link.

If you use the Internet regularly, you need to know how to recognize scams. Think about signing up for a security awareness course where you will learn to recognize the techniques used by con artists and familiarize yourself with recognizing phishing emails and other scams via hands-on exercises.