Scams more sophisticated: Age Concern

Age Concern health promotion team leader Kristen Beardsmore says people need to notice the...
Age Concern health promotion team leader Kristen Beardsmore says people need to notice the warning signs for cyber-scammers. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Cyber scammers are getting more sophisticated as older people become more digitally savvy, Age Concern says.

The organisation hosted a special information session at the South Dunedin Community Hall yesterday.

Health promotion team leader Kristen Beardsmore said everyone was vulnerable to cyber scams.

"People have had to rely on technology a lot more since Covid-19.

"Everyone should know about scams, no matter what their age, but unfortunately seniors are more vulnerable as they’re less likely to be digitally literate."

The most common scams targeting older people were telephone scams, email scams and social media scams.

"These scams could include anything from encouraging people to purchase products that don’t exist to being tricked by people pretending to be someone they are not.

"It’s always the unsolicited contact it starts with — people contacting you out of the blue or someone that’s wanting you to do something urgently and demanding money."

As older people became more digitally literate, the scams became more sophisticated, she said.

"They [the scammers] are becoming more and more common. It’s all about fraud, really.

"Most of the time the motivation for scammers would be money."

Anyone who has been scammed should contact their bank, Netsafe and the police, she said.

"We’ve heard about people losing hundreds of thousands of dollars over time

... I’ve also heard of people giving away all their money and still not believe they’re being scammed."

Ms Beardsmore advised people to "take a bit of a breather and have a cup of tea" before engaging with others online, so they could think about what they were doing.

"Tell someone else what you’re doing, so that you can ensure what you’re doing is real.

I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of being scammed.

"It can affect anyone; younger people are more often scammed than older people; the difference is that older people often have more assets to lose."