Top 5 Hottest Senior Cyber Scams


You have to admit, when it comes to online fraud, scammers are smart, creative and versatile. And seniors don’t always have confidence in their abilities to protect themselves against those cunning criminals, according to research conducted by Home Instead Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network.

But seniors should feel confident tapping into their experiences to help them discern what’s real and what isn’t, says Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. “Older adults often have built-in defenses that tell them if something is real or fake. They can use that life experience to help sort out a scam.”

So take heart, and arm yourself with knowledge. Take the “Quiz: Can You Spot an Online Scam?” to become better equipped.

According to experts at Public Safety Canada, the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Better Business Bureau, the following are five of the hottest cyber scams that older adults need to avoid:

  1. Tech support scams: These types of scams can manifest themselves as “pop-ups” that appear on your computer screen and look like legitimate offers for computer service or help. In addition, criminals could get your telephone number and call to claim they are representing a reputable company such as Microsoft. Perhaps they’re selling fake software. If there’s a high-pressure pitch to take urgent action, that’s a red flag. If you get such a call, it is best to hang up and call the company yourself to verify the person on the telephone is legitimate.
  2. Tax scams: The tax season provides another window of opportunity for online fraudsters to take action. Criminals in Canada will sometimes send emails claiming they are from the Canada Revenue Agency, claim there is something wrong with your recent tax return and threaten to contact police if you don’t pay the fine ASAP. Public Safety Canada explains that the CRA will not contact you via email if there is a problem with your return.
  3. Ransomware: One of the most frightening forms of online fraud is ransomware, a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. One of the best ways to help prevent this from happening is to ensure your system has an up-to-date antivirus system. Also, never open spam emails from unknown senders, do not download attachments from spam or suspicious emails, and avoid clicking on links in suspicious emails to help avoid these types of scams.
  4. False debt collectors: False debt collection emails oftentimes come as official-looking documents and the tone of the emails is threatening and urgent. The messages frequently invoke the possibility of a lawsuit. Do not respond to these emails, open any attachments or click on any links. Delete these emails. If you’re concerned about whether you owe money, contact any creditors directly to find out if they sent the emails.
  5. Sweepstakes scams: Sweepstakes and charities scams prey on emotions. Scam charities often have names similar to real charities. However, they usually cannot provide important documentation of their identity and mission, nor can they provide proof of tax-deductible contribution. If you believe a sweepstakes or charity is legitimate, you can look up the organization’s telephone number and call to verify it.

Visit for more information about how to identify online scams. To learn more about professional caregiving services provided by the Home Instead Senior Care network, visit


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