With technology advancements and upgrades coming at breakneck speed, there’s always something newer and more up-to-date to make our lives easier. Unfortunately, things that make our lives easier can also make life easier for criminals - notably, fraudsters and identity thieves. To mark this year’s National Senior Safety Week, November 6-12, the Canada Safety Council and TELUS are teaming up to shed light on how seniors can keep themselves and their information safe, and out of the hands of criminals.
The Competition Bureau of Canada estimates that seniors between the ages of 60-79 were scammed out of $94 million between January 2014 and December 2017.
“Criminals tend to look for the path of least resistance and, too often, that passes through our most vulnerable sections of society,” said Jack Smith, president of the Canada Safety Council. “Seniors seem to be easy targets for a lot of scammers, which is why we feel it’s crucial that we do our part to keep the elderly as informed and prepared as possible to avoid being victimized.”
When it comes to email scams, fortunately, there are some clues that can indicate if a message is legitimate or an attempted scam. Unlike professional emails, scam emails are often littered with spelling and/or grammatical errors. These messages also frequently come from unknown email addresses, do not address the recipient by name and feature low-quality images.
Additionally, malicious messages may encourage recipients to take urgent actions, involving clicking on links or opening attachments, providing private information, or calling a specific phone number. Unless you’re absolutely certain of a message’s origins, do not download attachments or click on links as they may contain viruses, spyware and malware. Further, refrain from using any method of contact shared in the message. Rather, contact the organization using the phone number or email listed on their website and inquire about the message’s legitimacy. Messages that appear malicious in nature should be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and deleted.
“It is unfortunate that seniors are often the target of cyber scams. Recognizing this vulnerability, we are pleased to team up with the Canada Safety Council to help empower them to stay safe online,” said Nimtaz Kanji, Director, TELUS Wise. “Providing seniors with online safety tips and information will allow them to participate in our digital world without fear, and enable them to take advantage of the positive benefits technology has to offer.”
Here are five other useful tips to keep your information out of the wrong hands:
- Limit what you share online; do not give out your social insurance number online under any circumstances.
- Don’t share personal information online, including credit card numbers and your address, unless you are on a secure website. To check, look for a padlock icon next to the site’s address.
- Many scam calls are of the “cold call” variety. If you’re unsure, let the call go to voicemail.
- If you are asked for information over the phone, ensure that you are the one who initiated the call and you know who you’re talking to. Be wary of incoming calls as you may be speaking with someone who is not affiliated with the organization they claim to be from.
- Keep your digital household clean - ensure your software is kept up to date and deactivate/delete accounts or apps that are no longer in use.