It appears there are more scams to watch out for than ever before, as criminals have sought to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic and capitalize on the confusion it has caused. A leading online security expert has warned seniors to watch out for phishing emails and other scams that seek to catch them.

According to a McAfee study, more than a third (35%) of people over 65 have been victims of an email scam, compared to 23% of the general population.

Kevin Brown of BT Security spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk and advised retirees about the warning signs to look out for when trying to spot a scammer.

He said: “While anyone can fall for online fraud, scammers often target the elderly who may be more vulnerable. This has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as cybercriminals grapple with the fear and insecurity of older internet users during this difficult time.

“Getting connected can make life easier and open up a lot of opportunities for older people. The most important thing when using the internet is knowing the different types of threats to watch out for and what to do if you suspect a scam.

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“Getting connected can make life easier and open up a lot of opportunities for older people. The most important thing when using the internet is knowing the different types of threats to watch out for and what to do if you suspect a scam.

“While there are a number of tactics out there, one of the most common methods used by scammers is phishing. Phishing involves scammers pretending to be a trusted person or organization to trick you into disclosing your personal information – whether it’s usernames, passwords, or even financial details.

“For example, a phishing email might claim that you’ve won an award, that you’ve been hacked, that you’re offering health advice, or that you’re pretending to be someone who needs your help. It will ask you to click on a link and provide your personal information, which crooks could use to gain access to your finances, other accounts, or even commit identity theft.

“Beware of any business that contacts you out of the blue, and beware if it sounds too good to be true. Sit down before you click and think “is this likely or even true?” Check the sender’s address, as it’s always worth looking on a company’s website for a comparison if you’re unsure.

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“You can also often spot a fraudulent email from typos and formatting errors. Scams aren’t always easy to prevent, but there are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself. Make sure your computer has the latest antivirus software and look for the padlock symbol in a website address before entering your payment information.

“If you think you have been trapped by an online scam, report the incident to Action Fraud and if you believe the scammer has your financial information, report it to your bank as soon as possible.”

Kevin Curran, IEEE senior fellow and professor of cybersecurity at the University of Ulster, highlighted some of the pitfalls that currently exist, with phishing emails being of particular concern.

He said: “There are a number of dangers at hand when using the Internet, but one of the biggest problems for older people is email phishing. As emails become more and more popular year by year, millions of cybercriminals actively target older people and trick them into clicking spam links.

“As criminals get more sophisticated, mechanisms are struggling to block many of these phishing attacks. Additionally, phishing emails can generate random characters and change their format to escape spam filters, meaning older people are more likely to trust them.

“Fake websites are another danger. Many crooks create fake websites that look genuine but are there to capture sensitive personal or financial information. Websites that masquerade as government services such as passport or driver’s license renewals are also regularly created.

“Visiting bogus websites or clicking links in emails can leave seniors vulnerable to computer viruses or backdoor tools that take control of their devices.

“We also cannot forget the phone crooks, who try to harm the elderly or vulnerable on a daily basis. They will often tell their victims that their computer has a virus, and they seek to install spyware as well as extort people to pay for bogus software.

Having your credit card details stolen is another type of fraud to watch out for, as research from cybersecurity experts at Malwarebytes found that the likelihood of having your credit card data stolen increases with age. people aged 65 and over are more affected than anyone else. other age group.

Incidents of attempted scams appear to be on the rise lately, as Opinium’s research found that 79% of those over 55 said they had been approached by a scammer in the past 12 months. This highlights the need to be able to quickly spot scams.

Of the results, Helen Morrissey, Senior Pensions and Retirement Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “As we get older we are more and more confident that we can spot a scam, but one in four people aged 55 and over would be a criminal claiming to offer guaranteed returns of 10 percent.

“This is particularly concerning as this age group is the most likely to be targeted by retirement scammers.”


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