Fraud on the Internet
Internet scams are fast on the rise and while anyone can be
tricked, Internet scams run against seniors are on the rise faster
than most other groups.
The growth of Internet scams
in part has to do with the
incredible rate of growth of seniors on the Internet. According to research by AARP, senior citizens are the fastest growing segment of the Internet community.
Add this to the fact that the boomers of the 40's will be making
the senior population the fastest growing age group, and Internet
scammers have a very large target.
Seniors say that keeping in touch with others through email remains the top reason for using the Internet. But seniors increasingly are turning to their computers to shop and conduct business.
Additionally, seniors hitting age 65 today have often had to learn
to use the computer and the Internet as a part of their job
function and unlike their older cousins who retired 10 years ago,
they will carry this knowledge and use into retirement.
Internet scam types
When it comes to Internet scams,
seniors aren't alone here.
Every age group and every economic class can be taken advantage
of. There are many such scams but here are just a few:
Spam is probably the most
annoying of all Internet occurrences unless you suffer from popup
bugs on your computer. Spammers attempt to sell you
everything from body part enhancers, to medications, to cheap
insurance, to home mortgages, to office supplies, and the list
goes on and on.
Federal and state legislatures
have passed much legislation that attempts to close down the
spammers but without much luck. There are too many reasons
for this to go into here, but laws will never be effective in
managing or stopping spam.
The only thing that stops
spammers is a lack of ability to derive an income from their
spam. As long as there are some that buy what the spammer
sells, the spam will continue. And if you buy once, you
stand to see your spam increase 10 fold. You've been
identified as a sucker for spam and they will never let you go.
So even if you see something that
you really want that is offered in a spam email, just say
"no". Do a search for it and buy it from a
different site if you want, but don't reward the spammer for his
illegal activity by buying what he is selling. Another
reason to not do this is that you stand good chances of getting an
inferior product or not receiving anything at all. Spammers
must move around an awful lot and as such, their websites are here
today and gone tomorrow.
Spammers are also already
breaking the law and in some cases, they are breaking many very
serious laws. Prescription sellers that spam, often do so
illegally and the trouble they could get into for not sending you
your order is nothing compared to the trouble they could be in for
selling drugs without a license or a legitimate
Internet password scams
If you are on the Internet, you
need passwords at least to log onto your account. If you do
much of anything else like online banking or have a web-based
email account, you also need passwords.
Understand that it's just a
matter of time until you get an email that looks like it is coming
from a bank, EBay or some other well known company, asking you to
either enter your login identification or click a link taking you
to a page where you do the same. It is almost always
accompanied with some sort of threat of terrible consequences like
losing your account or it costing you money if you don't act now.
These email and the sites that
you go to look remarkably like those that they are impersonating,
giving you the feeling that you are communicating with the
legitimate business rather than the fraud.
No reputable company asks you for
your login ID in an email and they simply do not lose your
password information. It doesn't happen. If you are
asked for this information anywhere, anytime, except to log into
your account on the site, you are being scammed.
Avoid this scam by not replying
to such emails and do not even bother to click on the link to go
to the site. Doing so can possibly trigger a small program that
will let the scammer know more about you and that you were
interested in his email. Giving away your login information
is dangerous business.
Internet auction scams
Internet auctions are relatively
safe with a reported less than 1% of transactions ever resulting
in a complaint according to the FTC. While not all scams are
reported, there are also a fair number of cases that the complaint
was not justified either. Regardless, the number is quite
small. But you can still take precautions to minimize your
risk online as well.
- Use a secure browser -
Most browsers are free these days, but not all are safe for
conducting transactions online. Internet Explorer,
available from Microsoft
online is by far the most popular browser but Netscape
also has it's raving fans. Both companies offer free
browsers that you can download and stay up to date with
plugins and security features. It is however, important
that you keep your browser updated. Older versions of
browsers can have incredible security flaws that allow devious
scammers to cause problems
- Check the site's privacy
policy - This should
be done before you ever order anything. Keep in mind
But a site without any security policy doesn't
even pretend to offer you protection for your data.
Watch those sites that tell you in one sentence that your
privacy is important and then tell you in the next sentence
that they share your information with "trusted
partners". These are people that they say THEY
trust, not people that YOU trust. In essence, they mean
that they will give your information to anyone that pays them
- Read and understand the
refund and shipping policies
- This is one of the most overlooked pieces of information and
one that causes the most trouble. For the most part,
they can say anything they want here and by clicking the
"BUY" button, you are saying that you agree to
it. Look the site over completely to see if there are
any other disclosures or disclaimers that might affect your
- Keep your personal
Don't disclose any of your personal information in an
email. Email is not safe at all, even if the other party
claims it is. Email gets forwarded and most people don't
think twice about sharing their computer with your email on it
with a coworker.
- Keep records of your online
transactions and check your e-mail
- Sometimes people forget to check their email or only do so
every week or two. If the merchant has sent you
important email regarding your purchase and you are not
checking email, you will obviously not be able to
- Review your monthly credit
card and bank statements
- This is very important to make sure that nobody is using
your credit cards without authorization. Notify your
credit or debit card issuer immediately if your credit, debit
card or checkbook is lost or stolen, or if you suspect someone
is using your accounts without your permission.
These pages are created to inform and educate the public only.
They are not and should not be considered legal opinions or
advice. You do not and cannot have any client-attorney
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should not act upon legal advice found on SeniorMag and are advised
to seek professional counsel before taking any action based upon
information found on this site.