Seniors across the US are becoming an attractive target for scammers and con artists. Fortunately, as the increased effort by scammers becomes evident, so does the anti-fraud efforts by those who care for them. If you are a senior or if you have a loved one that is a senior, here are some tips for identifying the two types of fraud Nuvera encounters most frequently: phone scams and computer scams.
- Grandparent Call Scams
- These types of calls come from people claiming to be your grandchild or speaking on behalf of your grandchild. They usually claim they need money for a number of reasons. Most commonly they ask for money because their car is broken down, they need food, or they’re in jail and need money to be bailed out.
- IRS Scams
- These types of calls start with a very threatening or aggressive (usually foreign) person on the other line telling you that you owe the IRS money for back taxes or other fees. They will often use “scare tactics” to get seniors to think they are in trouble with the law.
- Technical Support
- Scammers will call your phone and make very generic computer statements and try to scare you into thinking your computer has been hacked or compromised and that your data is at risk. They often will try to charge extreme rates to remove or correct these problems for you.
- Contest/Prize Scams
- If you receive a call with a “too good to be true” prize or contest that has been won, it is likely a scam. Often times the scammer will say you must pay a processing or shipping fee to claim this prize. They will usually pressure you into making an on-the-spot decision by stating the fake offer will expire if you don’t act now.
Things to know:
- Using a computer program, scammers can “spoof” local numbers. This is a method of changing how their phone number appears on your caller ID so it looks like a local number.
- Do not give out any personal info. The scammers only know information that is provided to them by you.
- Be aware of scare tactics as this is the most prevalent method of obtaining victims’ information. Reputable agencies would not scare or intimidate their customers.
- The IRS does not call people to discuss issues with taxes. Their first method of contact is a physical letter in the mail.
- If something the person on the other line is offering and sounds too good to be true IT IS.
- Scammers will often ask for very unusual types of payment – like major retailer gift cards such as Walmart, Best Buy, and Target. Bills, taxes, and bail cannot ever be paid with gift cards.
What can I do?
- Establish a person in your family that you can contact and trust to ask for a second opinion on a suspicious call or message.
- Utilize services like Caller ID and Voicemail from Nuvera. If you don’t recognize a phone number, don’t answer it and let the phone call go to voicemail. They will leave a message if it’s important.
- Contact Nuvera’s Technical Support line at 844.354.4111. We can provide helpful information and provide an opinion on whether the call was legitimate or not.
- Find out what other kinds of services Nuvera offers to help filter out calls that may be harmful. For example, Nuvera provides a service called Selective Call Acceptance. This service allows you to only permit certain phone numbers to contact you on your home phone. There are also services like Anonymous Call Rejection and Call Blocking that can be utilized to stop anonymous callers or a particular number that is harassing you.
- Most importantly, HANG UP! Your participation in a phone call is completely voluntary. If you suspect something isn’t right, don’t be afraid to hang up. Trust your instincts.
- Fake Microsoft Security Popups
- These pop-ups instruct users to call “Microsoft Support” and are by far the most commonly encountered type of computer scam. They claim that your information like bank accounts and logins are being stolen and that your computer is infected with viruses, Trojans, and malware.
- “You are the 1,000,000th Visitor!” Scam
- This type of scam will usually appear in pop-up windows or in banner ads at the top of websites. They claim a user has won a monetary prize or some type of physical prize. Generally, they ask you to pay a shipping or handling fee for the prize just to get credit card information from you. In some cases, they just ask for an email address and bombard your email account with spam.
- Phishing Emails
- Phishing emails are malicious in nature but often harmless in appearance. There are multiple kinds of phishing emails, but one of the more common types is an email that appears to be from a source you trust that asks you to click a link to verify or secure your account. That link will take you to a fake site that appears legitimate but once you type in your information, the scammers will have your account access information. Many times they will claim your account has been compromised and you must login to secure it again.
- Greeting Card Scams
- You may receive an email that appears to be from someone you know, but these types of scams are generally phishing attempts and are malicious. They generally contain a “RE:” or “FW:” to make it appear as something that can be trusted. The body of the email is generally very odd and it will sometimes instruct you to click on an infected link.
How can I protect myself?
- Strong anti-virus software can catch or prevent many malicious emails, websites, and popups. Regularly update your anti-virus and run scans on your computer to keep yourself protected.
- Don’t click on advertisements you see on websites. This can be “Sponsored Content” or “Paid Partner Content” but often time these types of ads are not checked by the website and they can present popups and other content that can be malicious or intrusive.
- Never click on email attachments that look suspicious or aren’t mentioned in the body of the email. Check to make sure you know and trust the sender of all your emails if you download any attachments. Block any emails that you suspect may be infected to help your email software know what to catch next time.
- Keep your computer up-to-date with Windows updates. Microsoft regularly releases updates and patches that can prevent your computer from being compromised.
Nuvera’s Device Support Plan is a great and affordable option for people who may need a little extra help with computer support and it includes one PC tune-up free per year and unlimited phone support.