As people get into their 70s, they stand to lose more to fraud than any other age group—which makes a strong case for protecting the older people in our lives.
If you’re looking to protect them online, you have several ways to go about it. Our new McAfee+ Family plans are one way, where two adults and four children get personalized online protection that they can set up and manage on their own. With your McAfee+ Family plan a simple invitation, you can rest easy that they’re protected against online scams and other threats.
And threats certainly face us all, and hit older adults hardest.
In the following table courtesy of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you can see the risks that adults faced in 2022. While younger victims reported fraud loss at a higher rate, their median losses were typically smaller than the losses of older adults. By the time victims reach their 70s and 80s, the reporting rate dropped, yet the median losses made a significant leap. Note that these are reported cases of fraud, and those reported to the FTC. In other words, this represents just a slice of the fraud that occurred in 2022.
Moreover, as we’ve shared before in articles about elder scams, older adults may be less willing or able to report a scam. The reasons vary. They may not know how they were scammed or they may feel shamed by being scammed—all of which can lead to underreporting. Moreover, not every scam report includes an age range, which leads to further underreporting.
Yet the case is clear. Scams pose a significant threat to older adults.
Which online scams are targeting grandparents and older adults?
Looking further into the FTC data, older adults in the U.S. lost more than $1.6 billion to scams in 2022 across four primary categories:
- Imposter scams – As the name implies, these involve scammers masquerading as legitimate businesses, government agencies, or even friends and family members. Regardless of the guise, the scammers want the same thing—to steal money and personal information from the victim. To do so, scammers may make phony threats as they pose as credit card agents or tax collectors, or they may pretend to be a friend or grandchild in urgent financial need. In these cases, email and social media account for primary contact methods, and payments usually take the form money orders and gift cards as losses from them are difficult to recover.
- Online shopping scams – These scams take in victims of all ages. Search and social media ads lead victims to bogus websites that sell unique or hard-to-get items, often at a greatly reduced cost. However, once the scammers receive payment, they’ll either deliver low-quality knockoff goods or no goods at all. In the case of counterfeit goods, these scams may be a front for illegal activity and may exploit child labor as well. In the case of non-delivery, organized cybercrime groups often run these scams, operating them much in the same way a legitimate business sells its goods—with marketing teams, web developers, and processes for receiving payment. In short, they can look and act rather sophisticated.
- Sweepstakes scams – Tough to win a sweepstakes that you never entered. But that won’t stop scammers from saying you have. Victims will get an email or a direct message in social media saying that they’ve won a prize and that all they need to do it claim it. This is where the scammer will ask the victim to provide something, like personal information because the scammer needs it determine their “eligibility”, or their bank account routing information so that the scammer can “send the winnings.” In some cases, they may outright ask victims for money, like a processing fee or a payout for taxes on the (bogus) winnings.
- Tech support scams – These scams target older adults several ways, such as through links from unsolicited emails, pop-up ads from risky sites, or by spammy phone calls and texts. Here, the scammer will pose as tech support from a known and reputable brand and inform the victim that they have an urgent issue with their computer or device. While the device is actually in fine working order, the scammer offers to “fix” it for a fee. With permission to fix the device given, the scammer either does nothing or, more maliciously, installs malware like adware or spyware on the otherwise healthy device.
Helping the grandparents and older adults in your life avoid online scams.
So many scams fail to pass the sniff test. The moment you scrutinize the incredible offer plastered on that ad or question why a so-called tax collector would hound you on social media, something immediately smells fishy. Yet people don’t always catch that whiff. People of all ages. Not just the elders in our lives.
One way we can help everyone stay safer online is through conversation. The knowledge that comes from a good, ongoing conversation about life online provides them with one pillar of protection. Talking about how they spend their time online and the types of scams that are out there arms them with the savvy they need to spot a scam. That will help them take that crucial moment when faced with a possible scam, a crucial moment to consider if that ad, email, or direct message is indeed bogus.
The second pillar comes from comprehensive online protection. Today’s protection goes far beyond antivirus. It protects devices the privacy and the identity of the people using them. In the case of our McAfee+ Family plans, they protect up to six people from viruses, credit card fraud, and identity theft with tailored guidance as they do what they do online. With an elder on your family plan, you can see which devices they’ve installed protection on, so you’ll know they’re protected.
More specific to some of the scams we talked about, it can help block older adults from accessing messages. Further, it can help prevent scam calls and texts in the first place. Personal Data Cleanup spots and removes their personal info from risky data broker sites that spammers use to find victims. And if their personal information has been compromised, our identity monitoring alerts them if their data is found on the dark web, an average of 10 months ahead of similar services—and get expert guidance about what to do next. Our identity theft protection and recovery service identity and credit if the unexpected happens to them.
Adding a parent to your family plan.
Adding someone to your McAfee+ Family plan is practically as simple as typing in an email address.
Think of it as sending an invitation, one where everyone gets their own personalized protection with their own unique login. This way, each member of the family can set up and manage their own protection for their identity, privacy, computers, and phones.
With this invitation, they’ll see that it comes from you and that all they need to do to start their protection is to click the link—no extra charges or fees. They’re simply part of your plan now.
From there, they can download their protection, set up their devices, and consult their McAfee Protection Score to see how secure they are. Then simple instructions make it easy to set up and fix gaps to improve their online security so that they’re safer still.
In all, it’s a highly straightforward process, for you and members of your family.
Protect your family from scams online with the right plan in place.
Spending any time online calls for online protection, no matter what age you are. While threats may look different across different age groups, every family member faces them. Another thing everyone has in common is that every family member can protect themselves from threats, far more thoroughly now than before. Comprehensive online protection has evolved far beyond antivirus. It protects the person, which is important because that’s who scammers target. They target people, so they can invade their privacy, steal their personal information, or simply rip them off.
Put plainly, knowing what today’s scams look like and using comprehensive online protection offer a one-two punch in the defense against online scams. You have several options to get it for the older adults in your life, our new McAfee+ Family plans being one of them. Whichever route you take, putting your family’s protection plan in place will absolutely reduce the chances of someone you love getting stung by a scam.
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