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The ONE thing that Boomers can learn from Millennials and Gen Z — and it’s not what you think…

The wiser, more-seasoned generations have lots of advice for the younger generations, from financial best practices to relationship secrets and more. But when I asked my online following if the younger generations had anything to teach the Boomers, there was one piece of critical advice that popped up over and over again, and it’s really important: how not to get scammed with technology. 

Scams and cybercrime are on the rise. The FBI said that cybercrime cost Americans $12.5 billion last year. The perpetrators typically know how to manipulate and prey on people and their human nature to get them to part with important personal data or even money directly. There are many recent warnings from financial experts to cybercrime specialists who have fallen victim to scammers themselves.  

With so many pieces of data relating to services, insurance, pensions, Social Security and more, the Boomers make desirable scammer targets. With that, here’s a synopsis of best practices to avoid being scammed. 

MAC AND MACBOOK HIT WITH ‘CUCKOO’ MALWARE STEALING SENSITIVE DATA

1. Don’t engage with people you don’t know

Scammers can’t take advantage of you if they cannot engage with you, so put up your lines of defense. Do not answer a call or a text from a number you do not know. Do not respond to emails or click email links from people you don’t know. It is a hard thing to do — human nature wants us to fill in knowledge gaps, but doing so may open the door to a scammer.  

If there is someone trying to contact you about something important, they will find a way to do so that doesn’t compromise your privacy, security or financial well-being. Even if there is a threat attached, remember you won’t see that threat if you don’t open the email or answer the call. 

2. Verify anyone you think you do know or anything that looks official

Some scams involve “spoofing,” where an email, call or text comes in saying it is from a known entity like a bank, phone company, the IRS or otherwise, but it really isn’t from that entity at all. With AI, these frauds are getting even more challenging to detect. 

Here’s how to beat them. If you receive a fraud alert, note from a service provider or anything else that says to contact an entity or person at a certain phone number or email, do not use that information. Instead, find the information from a trusted source yourself and call them. 

For example, if you get a text claiming they are your credit card company, call the number on the back of your own physical credit card instead of the number they have given you. If you are messaged from another service provider, find their customer service number on a bill that you know is legitimate.  

If you receive an official looking document saying that it is from a court or governmental authority and you are not expecting it, find the number of that agency or entity and phone them to confirm before responding.  

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You may feel like you are being paranoid or bothering someone, but these are the methods that savvy scammers are using to trick well-meaning individuals, even those who work in areas that should know better. 

3. Watch for red flags

Anyone who instructs you not to call law enforcement or who asks you to withdraw cash, buy gift cards or money orders or jump through other unusual hoops should create a giant red flag warning for you. Hopefully, you haven’t connected with someone you don’t know or verified per the advice above, but if you do find yourself in that situation, tell them you need a break and call law enforcement or even a friend or family member for some clarity. Law enforcement is there to help you figure out if you are being tricked or scammed, so do not hesitate to phone them, especially if you are instructed not to contact them. 

And, I am sorry to break it to you, but if you meet someone online, they may not be who they say they are. If a new connection asks you for money or help, politely decline. You don’t want to fall victim to a romance scam, which costs individuals more than $1 billion a year. 

Here’s how to beat them. If you receive a fraud alert, note from a service provider or anything else that says to contact an entity or person at a certain phone number or email, do not use that information. Instead, find the information from a trusted source yourself and call them. 

4. Don’t share confidential, sensitive information

If it doesn’t seem like someone should be asking about personal information, tell them you aren’t comfortable sharing it with them. Nobody is entitled to your data. 

5. Have a family password or phrase

One of the cruelest scams involves scammers claiming that they have kidnapped a loved one. Being concerned clouds judgment and can often lead to bad decision-making under duress. Create a word or phrase that only your family knows, and if anyone claims to be speaking for or have access to a loved one, ask for the password. If they cannot provide it, then do not engage further and call law enforcement.  

Technology opens up more access to all of us from people looking to take advantage of us. Listen to the younger generations and do everything you can to be critical of contacts and keep yourself protected from scammers. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM CAROL ROTH 

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