How to protect yourself from online fraud

According to a recent Federal Trade Commission report, almost 20% of adults age 65 and older have been the victim of fraud. Not only are older adults being targeted, but they also lose more money to scammers on average than younger victims.

Older adults are targeted

Cybercriminals and other scammers are targeting older adults because older adults usually have financial savings, own a home, and have good credit scores. They also aren’t actively checking their credit scores because they apply for loans or other credit less often.

Older adults can also be more trusting, especially if someone already has some of their personally identifiable information. They may not realize that information might have been stolen during a data breach.

The most common scam types

According to the FTC, older adults report online shopping scams as the most frequent fraudulent activity. The number of these online shopping scams has significantly risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more and more people go online to shop for most of their needs.

Older adults report losing the most money to romance scams ($84 million in 2019), followed by $61 million in losses to government imposter scams, and $51 million in losses to lottery scams, according to the FTC.

What can you do to protect yourself?

There are steps you can take to help protect your personal information.

  1. Don’t Provide Your Personal Information Without Verification

Be on high alert if someone emails and calls you requesting your personal information. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from a financial institution, a government agency, or other organization, do not reply directly to that email or provide information over the phone. Instead, find the contact information for that organization and contact them directly.

And remember, your bank already has your account number and the IRS already knows your Social Security number. If someone is reaching out to ask you for it, that is a big red flag.

2. Use Password Managers

Using the same username and password across multiple accounts can make it easier for cybercriminals to access your personal or financial information. Password manager services can help you store and easily access your passwords across multiple accounts. A password manager also can help you remember PINs and answer security questions.

With a password manager, you only need to remember one password to unlock and use it.

3. Monitor Your Credit Report and Identity

Actively monitoring your credit report is an essential step to protecting your identity. A credit report and identity theft monitoring service can watch your credit report and send you an alert when there is possible suspicious activity. You can also receive alerts for new credit applications and accounts created in your name.

Credit report and identity theft protection services can monitor the internet and dark web for your name and Social Security number as well. They can also provide identity theft insurance and fraud restoration assistance if you do become a victim.

The bottom line is cybercriminals and other scammers are, unfortunately, targeting older adults for financial gain. Becoming a victim can cost you thousands of dollars as well as days, months, or even years to fix. Make sure you’re protected by using a trusted identity protection resource, like Identity IQ. UMA has partnered with Identity IQ to give our customers peace of mind when online. Visit their page to learn more.

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