Cyber criminals are everywhere today. More and more we are learning of how they are infiltrating our society and working to gain access to our protected information. From driver’s licenses and social security cards to credit cards and bank statements, so much of our personal information is at risk when it comes to cyber threats.
Who is most at risk right now as we approach Valentine’s Day? We are concerned that it is our seniors, especially our Tampa Bay residents. The FBI shares with us that seniors continue to be at an increased risk of being attacked by cyber criminals. It also tells us that “senior citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes for the following reasons:
- Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.
- People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
- Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.”
We want you to be as protected as you can right now, and well into the future. Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day is one of the holidays that can lead to increased feelings of isolation and depression. We, as a local community, need to know this and actively advocate to protect our Tampa Bay seniors.
What can we do? Consider these three tips that we share with our clients, friends, advisors, and loved ones.
- Check in frequently. Reach out to your friends, neighbors, and loved ones to make sure they are alright. Although you may feel it is invasive, do not wait to ask if they have made new friends and, more importantly, how those new relationships started.
- Ask for help. As a senior, never be embarrassed by falling victim to a scam. In fact, cyber criminals are relying on your inaction. Reach out to trusted friends, family, or your attorney to ask for help. The sooner you take action, the better.
- Help the Tampa Bay senior report. Reporting elder abuse scams can be different from calling the police. Although there is never a wrong time to call the police, there are different ways to report. In Florida you may reach out to the Senior Protection Team or call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).
We know this blog may raise more questions than it answers. Do not wait to, first, contact the authorities but also to reach out to our law practice so that we may support you. We are your local community law firm here to answer any of your elder care questions.