Roughly eight out of 10 scam victims are over 65, according to recent reporting from the Federal Trade Commission. When seniors are scammed, they also tend to lose more money ($1,700 on average) than other age groups.
Why? Cybersecurity experts say that seniors are generally slower to adopt online methods for banking and shopping, so they’re less in-tune with the associated risks. Seniors also are targeted because many of them have savings, and because older adults tend to be more trusting than younger people.
What’s more, seniors as a whole simply aren’t taking the necessary steps to protect their identities. According to Generali Global Assistance, 58% of seniors believe they’re doing all they can to protect themselves, but just 21% of seniors have identity-theft protection.
The Cyber Protection Services division at Generali Global Assistance wants to alert the public to simple steps that everyone — especially older adults — should take to protect themselves from digital threats. PC360 recently talked with Paige Schaffer, CEO of Global Identity & Cyber Protection Services at Generali Global Assistance, to find out more:
Why is this an issue that Generali Global Assistance wants to draw attention to?
First and foremost, this is core to our DNA as our business focuses on identity and cyber protection. While identity crimes and scams leave no age demographic untouched, seniors seem to often bear the brunt of them. They’re naturally more trusting. And seniors were generally raised to be polite, so there are some generational characteristics. There’s also a new study that suggests that older people have trouble identifying untrustworthy faces. I think also seniors are targeted more because they have a lot at stake. Many seniors have spent their lives working hard to have a comfortable retirement. Therefore, more funds are available and fraudsters want a piece of it.
Why do people need an identity protection service? What is the value of such a service?
Schaffer: In today’s digitized world, a lot of crime happens electronically. It’s really important to have somebody acting on your behalf. We offer services like identity monitoring on the dark web. So you can plug in particular data points and if your information shows up where it shouldn’t be, you’ll get an alert and the call center can quickly work with you to get it taken care of. We also offer credit monitoring alerts. If somebody were to get some of your information and then open up a home loan or buy a car or any sort of payment plan with credit, you’re going to get notified immediately.
It’s always better to shut it down quicker with some proactive monitoring, like our online data protection service that’s downloadable to your home computer. Then, if somebody sends you a phishing email, it’ll flag it and prevent you from clicking on that stuff. It also prevents thieves from capturing your passwords.
So yes, you have to be vigilant yourself. But where the electronic services matter is that you’ve got an organization or company and technologies that are proactively on the hunt for something that doesn’t look right. Because if you don’t stop it quickly, then it’s likely they will open up one account, and then open up another account, and it just goes on and on. It makes it harder to bring resolution to the scenario.
We do see a percentage of victims. When you are a victim, you don’t want to be scrambling all over trying to figure out what to do, whether it’s dealing with police reports or a bank account or credit card accounts or the IRS, in the case of tax fraud. It helps to have an expert that knows what to do quickly.