Tech Help – Senior Scams Abound

Though the pandemic is nearing its end, many older adults are still staying home, and they are lonely. If they get a phone call, they’ll be happy to talk to someone – and that person just might be a scammer.

Last month, a client called me and asked if I would be available at 3:30pm. She said, “I told the Amazon guy to call me then and maybe you could be on the call with us.” It sounded suspicious. I asked her a few questions. She replied, “He wanted me to click around my account because there was a fraudulent payment. He said it would only take a few minutes and he would walk me through it but he was talking too fast.” I told her to hang up, call her bank, and change her Amazon password.

Three days later, another woman contacted me. She said she got a call from Amazon, her delivery was on its way, and she owed the driver $400! I logged into her screen and showed her she didn’t have any Amazon orders; no packages were coming.

I told both of them, “Amazon will never call you. Neither will Microsoft, Apple, the IRS, or Social Security.” I also told them if they don’t recognize the number, it’s okay not to answer. If the caller really wants to talk with them, they’ll leave a message. Then they can decide if they want to call them back.

And how about email scamming? Nothing like clicking on your email, looking forward to seeing photos of your grandkids, and then, BAM! — you see an email from PayPal saying you owe $999! That’s what happened to another client. Here are some hints to look for when you receive a dubious email:

Look at the sender’s email address. At first, my client just saw ‘Customer Support.’ But I showed her that if you click on the downward pointing arrow to the right of ‘Customer Support,’ you’ll see the full email address. Her so-called PayPal email came from a Gmail account with a personal name, nowhere does it say PayPal. That’s our first hint.

Check for grammatical errors. The email said, “Hello, You’ve received a Invoice….” Red flag! It should say “an Invoice.” A company as big as PayPal will have a proofreader, if not a whole marketing department carefully monitoring its messaging.

Finally, it had a phone number to call. Never call the phone number on the email! I Googled it and guess what? It’s not a PayPal number. It’s actually a construction company…hmmm. Instead of calling, Google “PayPal customer service.” Call that number and ask them about the email you received.

Finally, know that you are not alone. I’ve received scam phone calls and emails, and even I, a tech tutor, get scared. But I take a deep breath and call one of my tech guys for some reassurance — because even Tech Support sometimes needs Tech Support.

So, trust your instincts. Ask someone if you’re unsure. If it seems too good to be true or downright scary, you don’t have to react right away. Thinking it through is always best.

Nancy Spear

Nancy’s Tech Help for Older Adults

310-365-9951 • [email protected] 

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