Monthly Archives: March 2015

Study Suggests Some People Are More Vulnerable to Online Fraud Than Others

by Barbara Parrott McGinity, LMSW

One of the recurring scams I hear about from older adults is the “Microsoft Scam.” How does it work? You receive a phone call telling you “this is Microsoft and we have detected a virus on your computer and we want to help you.” They ask for access to your computer. I equate this to letting a robber into your house, and you sit and watch them still items right in front of you.

Here is what the scammers may ask you to do:
• Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
• Convince you to visit legitimate websites (like to download software that will allow them to take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
• Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
• Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.

In a survey by AARP released in May 2014 titled, Caught in the Scammer’s Net, they revealed the risk factors that increase your chances of becoming an Internet fraud victim. The survey identified 15 particular behaviors, life experiences, and knowledge attributes that may make a person more vulnerable to online fraud:

• Clicking on pop-ups
• Opening email from unknown sources
• Selling products on online auction sites
• Signing up for free limited time trial offers
• Downloading apps
• Purchasing through an online payment transfer site
• Visiting a website that required them to read a privacy policy;
• Visiting a website that required them to read a terms of agreement statement
• Being impulsive

Life Experiences:
• Feeling isolated/lonely
• Loss of a job
• Negative change in financial status
• Being concerned about debt

• Being unaware that banks do not send emails to their customers asking them to click on a link to verify personal information
• Being unaware that a privacy policy does not always mean the website will not share their information with other companies
Are you at risk to be a victim of Internet fraud? In reading them, do feel you might meet any of these risk factors? It is important to be aware of these factors and do understand how you could be tricked.

Be safe and remember: do not click on pop up windows of any type or warning, do not give your personal information to unverified websites, check out all websites and offers before making purchases, do not open emails from strangers, and do not click on links sent by friends unless you have personally verified they sent the email.

Data breaches such as those at Blue Cross Blue Shield and J P Morgan Chase provide scammers with alot of different information to try and trick you. Stop, think and ask…that is the only way to stay safe on the Internet.