“Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated as they use both technology and psychology to trap their victims”, Patrick Baker of Prime Life Tech tells me. Using what professionals call “social engineering”, scammers are looking to elicit a reactive emotional response.
Think about it:
An “authority figure” reaches out and instructs you to do something to prevent a dire situation. Which one of us would not be given pause? Our instincts take over and tell us to fix the situation and to do it fast. And that’s exactly what these predators are counting on when they reach out.
What are the scammers looking for?
Patrick says that they want the “Holy Trinity” of our full names, dates of birth, and social security numbers. And that’s all they need to wreak havoc on our lives. Scary? No. It’s actually terrifying.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
First, no one from the IRS is going to call you. We promise.
Will my bank or credit card company call me?
If your accounts are in good standing it is unlikely they will call you. But if they do, they will have all your information at their fingertips. Rather than “confirming” your information during the call, a better choice would be to look up the customer service number on the back of your credit card and call them back (and certainly not at the number they offer).
Be equally wary of any online website collecting personal info. Scammers mine day and night for internet gold and they are looking to gather your location, email address, physical address and online activity. Don’t click every link you are sent, keep your computer equipment up-to-date.
Patrick advises all his clients to use a password manager. For the record, he prefers BitWarden. He finds the free package is sufficient for most people. The next step up is a very modest charge and offers 2FA, emergency access, and access to an authenticator.
To learn more about Patrick and what you can do to protect yourself, check out Patrick’s programs. We highly recommend his Senior Tech Coffee, a free online and on-site learning series for anyone seeking a greater understanding of computers, tablets, smartphones, smart home technology, telemedicine, AgeTech, and other topics concerning older adults and technology.