Technology has been rapidly advancing in recent years, and it has both positive and negative effects on the lives of people over 50. Unfortunately, with technology becoming more accessible, people of all ages are also becoming more susceptible to scams and fraud like identity theft, cybercrime, phishing emails, and account takeovers.
But there are many tools designed to aid fraud prevention and cybersecurity. From anti-virus software to two-factor authentication, such platforms and dedicated fraud teams work hard to prevent online fraud and detect suspicious activity.
With these tools in place and emerging technologies designed to mitigate fraud risk, seniors can become savvier about online threats and more confident when using the internet.
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What are the most common scams affecting seniors these days?
Seniors are increasingly falling victim to various scams, with financial abuse being one of the most common. Fraudsters rely on the vulnerability and increased isolation of older people to target them with their schemes.
In the United Kingdom specifically, it is estimated that more than 4.5 million people are affected by fraud each year. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a massive increase in fraud, with cases surging by 24%. This is a significant figure, especially because it is expected that at least a quarter of victims will lose at least £1,000 to fraud activities.
Some of the most frequently reported types of fraud targeting seniors include phone, email and online scams.
Phone scams usually involve cold callers who get hold of people’s phone numbers to try to dupe victims into giving out personal and financial information by pretending to be from an official organisation such as banks or government departments.
These callers can be very aggressive and insistent and can cause older people to get flustered and make payments. They'll even go so far as to often convince people that they will be arrested if they don't pay up immediately.
But, no financial institution or government body conducts its business this way. So it’s essential for people to stay calm in these situations and keep their credit card details to themselves.
Case study: How Genie is protecting seniors from unsolicited phone calls
As unsolicited calls lead to fraud losses, innovative start-ups are developing machine learning tools that have real-time functionality to screen calls.
Genie is one such tool. It uses artificial intelligence to screen callers, quickly analysing incoming numbers and using tech to determine which ones are safe and which ones should be blocked.
Jason Wolf, the founder of Genie, told Pension Times: "Genie answers and talks to unknown callers, blocks the bad ones, passes the good ones through, and empowers the user with the right information to decide when Genie passes them through."
Email and online scams
Email and online scamming methods involve receiving emails from fake companies offering attractive deals or invitations for investment opportunities that are too good to be true.
These fraudulent activities aim to get people to hand over sensitive information like bank account details.
Many scams can be intricate, preying on older people's loneliness and offering friendship or romantic relationships online.
Many older people have fallen for so-called catfish scams and lost their life’s savings to these fraudsters. And while online banking apps often have fraud protection measures, financial services providers often can’t keep up with scammers.
What to do if you have fallen for a scam and lost money
It can be incredibly disheartening if you have fallen for a scam and lost money. Unfortunately, scams targeting people over 50 in the United Kingdom are becoming increasingly common, so it is vital to be aware of potential risks.
The first thing to do if you have been scammed is to contact your bank or financial services provider as soon as possible. Depending on the type of scam you have fallen victim to, they may be able to protect your account and stop any further payments from being taken, as well as reclaim any money that has already been lost. They will also be able to give more advice on what you should do next.
It could also be beneficial to report the incident to Action Fraud and the police. This will help them track down more information about the scam and potentially help others avoid falling victim. It is also worth contacting Citizens Advice and informing them of what has happened, as they may be able to provide further support, such as free debt advice or assisting with legal proceedings if necessary.
Finally, if you feel comfortable doing so and feel it would help other people learn from your experience, it is worth sharing what happened on social media so that others are aware of this ongoing threat.
Case study: How FraudFindr can help with fraud detection in financial crime
Reporting a fraud case can be an empowering first step in the fight against scammers and fraudsters. But it can take ages to build a case. That’s where the team behind FraudFindr is hoping to help investigators.
FraudFindr is a cloud-based forensic software that helps users investigate financial exploitation cases. It allows users to upload financial data from bank accounts, credit cards and other sources and then aggregates all the transactions into an easy-to-read summary. As a result, work that would typically take months to complete can now be aggregated almost instantly.
But that’s not all. The tool also acts as a fraud prevention technology.
Karen Webber, the founder of FraudFindr, told Pension Times: "FraudFindr alerts the user to suspicious activity it finds - from individual transactions to changing patterns over time, as well as any missing data that may be necessary to complete an accurate accounting.”
How technology is helping protect older people from scams
Technology can provide a range of tools to help protect older people from scams and fraud. From apps to alert you to potentially suspicious activity to websites which offer guidance on how to spot and avoid schemes, there are plenty of ways that the older generation can stay informed and vigilant.
Additionally, organisations like Action Fraud provide invaluable support networks for those affected by scams or fraud.
By making use of these resources, people over the age of 50 in the UK can ensure their security online and protect themselves from any untrustworthy activity.