Many elderly people like to dabble in modern technology. Some have computers or iPads, and use the Internet to communicate with their friends and family. However, the elderly are not the most technology-savvy bunch, which makes them especially attractive targets for Internet scammers and identity thieves. Nothing is more upsetting than listening to a loved one tell you a story about how he or she received a phone call or email asking for his or her personal identifying information, bank account or credit card information. You immediately start to ask questions but try not to sound too panicked, as you assess whether your elderly loved one has been the victim of a scam of some sort.
The elderly tend to be more trusting of strangers, and are often unaware that the Internet is a dangerous place if not properly and cautiously navigated. It is very serious when someone, especially an elderly person, accidentally gives out his or her personal identifying information.
What is Personal Identifying Information?
Personal identifying information is personal data that could identify an individual, such as your full name, maiden name, phone number, social security number or date of birth, among other things. Personal identifying information is highly sought after by scammers and identity thieves because this is the type of information one would need to pose as or impersonate another individual. Because the Internet has become such a useful tool over the last three decades, it is remarkably easy to open a line of credit online, so long as the scammer or thief has enough personal identifying information to impersonate his or her victim.
Examples of Scams
A particularly popular scam involves the secret installation of “spyware” on a personal home computer of the elderly victim. “Spyware” is malicious code or a small program, that is designed to discreetly install itself onto a computer. The scammers might email a link to the victim, disguised as a chain letter or something else innocuous, which will download the spyware to the computer when the victim clicks the link. The spyware is designed to be inconspicuous, and the victim never even knows that it is there, running in the background.
This spyware can take many forms. For example, the spyware can be a key-logging piece of computer code, which tracks the keys that are pressed on the keyboard. Keeping track of keystrokes allows scammers to collect login information and passwords from their victims. Another example involves installing a malicious piece of code that transmits information about the host (infected) computer, such as its IP address. A remote user on another computer, which could be located far away or even in another country, can use this information to hijack the infected computer and use it for his or her own nefarious purposes. The most complicated scams involve a combination of identity theft techniques.
Contacting an Elder Abuse Attorney
Scamming and the financial manipulation of elderly individuals is a form of elder abuse. The scammers can be located very far away, even in another country, or they could be located right within the nursing home in which your loved one lives. If you believe that your loved one is being financially manipulated, you should contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney today. Contact the professionals at Rooth Law Firm online or by phone at (800) 598-4348.