The Wild Wild Web

By Joe Cosgrove, Jr.

Folks of my age and older remember Western movies featuring a “snake oil” salesman. These early scammers tried to trick people out of hard earned money with various magic elixirs. It was all part of the Wild Wild West. Today’s Internet and telecommunications have brought us many benefits. But this exciting technology has also created new opportunities for the new snake oil salesmen. In addition, to using the Internet and computers, the scammers still use the telephone making robocalls and have developed new schemes. Here are two such schemes: “favorite grandchild” and “computer security.”

“Hi, grandpa, it’s your favorite grandson, Roy. (Sometimes the caller may have learned the name of the grandchild in advance via social media or tries to learn the name on the call). I’ve been in an accident, and arrested, I need money immediately. My lawyer will call you back with instructions.”

In the computer security scam, the scammers may call or place “pop-up” messages on your computer. They try to convince you that your computer is infected and you need to pay them to fix. They will use technical terms to act like experts. The scammers really want to acquire access to your computer and its information.

In both cases, it is important to have your guard up. In fact, the quickest and best action is just hang up. Always check with a trusted relative, friend or caregiver before making any commitments or providing any information like a social security number. Better yet, don’t even answer calls or emails that you don’t recognize.

These modern-day snake oil salesmen are clever and persistent. We need to band together as caregivers and senior citizens to protect against their ploys.

Fortunately, there are several great resources available from the good guys at the Texas Attorney General’s office, the FBI, the FCC and the FTC to name a few. Here are several links to additional information that detail various scams and how to protect both yourself and loved ones:

https://www.aging.senate.gov/ https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes/seniors/

https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/seniors/senior-texans-page/

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0346-tech-support-scams/

Please check out these resources out because like a good Western, we want a happy trails ending as we travel the Wild Wild Web…

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