Aged adults bank accounts are prime targets for scammers. And why not? Seniors, for the most part, are vulnerable, trusting and naive.
Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. banks found a record rate of financial abuse of older adults, with the numbers up 17 percent in the past year and double those from six years ago.
According to the Journal, banks reported 24,454 suspected cases of financial abuse against customers 65 or older in 2018. The number was 21,839 in 2017.
The Journal also noted that this increase is occurring despite new laws that allow banks to block scammers when they suspect that proposed transactions are fraudulent.
Why are seniors so susceptible?
It’s due to seniors using the same logon/password for their online bank accounts as they do for their social media and online shopping sites. Not the way to go. And, if any of those vendors or sites are compromised, the scammers gain access to your stored credentials — then use them on your online banking site.
Aged Adults: Be Skeptical
Skepticism is a good thing, especially if it prevents you from getting ripped off. As President Reagan often said, “Trust But Verify”. Scammers usually start by sending a ‘phising’ e-mail.
For example, they send you an email or text message pretending to be your bank and asking that you validate a recent purchase. So oblige and click their link. The link takes you to what looks exactly like your online bank account — it is actually a clone controlled by the scammer.
You might think you’re at chase.com, for example, but if you look closely, it’s chaise.com.
Some scammers will even call you, and pretend they’re from Microsoft, the IRS, your bank, and so on to try to persuade you to give out your personal information they can protect you.
Don’t give them any information.
Do you know why not? Because your bank or other financial institutions won’t ask you to confirm these credentials in an email or by an unsolicited phone call. Hang up, then call your bank and confirm whether they actually did call you.
Aged Adults: Scammers Operate Offline, Too.
You don’t bank online? Still no time to relax. Even if you don’t opt for online banking through a website or app, identity theft, scammers can still open an online account in your name.
Here’s what you can do to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of bank fraud.
Use Strong Passwords
Never use the same password for all of your online activity.
A recent study revealed the most common password was 123456, followed by 123456789 and QWERTY.
Also, don’t use your kids’ or pets’ names, phone number, date of birth, or mother’s maiden name. All of this info is easily attainable, especially in this era of social media.
Use different passwords for all accounts — and password manager apps are a handy way to remember them all. Know that a strong password can be a sequence of words and other characters including numbers and symbols. You should also make some of the letters case sensitive.
You can even use a phrase such as: His Blue # Nissan Sentry 2011! ROKs^. As a password, it becomes this: HisBlue#NissanSentry2011!ROKs^.
Aged Adults: Add Two-Factor Authentication
Make it harder for the bad guys to access your data by adding a second layer of defense.
Two-factor authentication means you not only need a password, or logon such as a fingerprint or facial scan to confirm only you can access your accounts.
Install Good Anti Malware
Don’t leave your electronic devices vulnerable to malware. Buy a good anti-malware program such as Norton or McAfee. It will protect you against viruses and malicious malware. Just as you wouldn’t leave the front door to your home unlocked, you shouldn’t let your tech be vulnerable to attacks, whether it’s a virus or other malicious software, called malware, that sneaks onto your device or happens because you were tricked into giving out sensitive information.
Reputable anti-malware that’s updated often identifies, quarantines, and deletes suspicious malware and viruses.
Review Your Statements
Review your bank statements on a regular basis. If you see suspicious activity or charges you did not make, call your bank immediately.
Don’t Check Accounts Or Make Transactions From Wi-Fi Spots
Do not conduct any financial transactions such as online banking, trading or shopping on a public computer. That also goes for an airport lounge, hotel or library that uses a public Wi-Fi network. You could be tracked on a public network, so wait until you’re on your secured internet connection at home.