Blake Dowling: Fighting for our seniors
Jimmy Patronis wants Floridians to be on the lookout for post-disaster scams.

scam-personal-loan
If you see someone or something targeting seniors, call law enforcement.

Our company spends much time discussing and fighting cyber threats that target the North Florida business community.

It has become a large part of what we do in this vast and constantly evolving threat landscape.

There’ve been some positives in recent months in the war against hackers; ransomware gangs have been shut down and threat protections like two-factor authentication, managed detection and response tools are often deployed by small businesses.

Organizations of all sizes are also getting on board: password hygiene, cyber training and email phishing attack simulations to also minimize the risk of a cyber incident.

However, one segment of the population is still having a hard time fighting back against fraud, hacking and cyber threats — our seniors.

Seniors do not have the digital protections that a law firm, dental office, association, or PR company has. They might also be alone, without the physical resources that a business would have when they have questions. These things combine to make them a ripe target for hackers.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody put together a Senior Protection Team, an intra-agency group of professionals to fill the void that exists once people enter their retirement years.

This team works on alerting, reporting, and prosecuting all frauds and scams that target seniors.

You can learn more about them here.

Another team fighting for seniors is the Elder Law Section of The Florida Bar. This group is open to any licensed attorney interested in legal issues facing the senior population.

I spoke with Orlando attorney Heather Kirson with the Elder Law Center of Kirson and Fuller about their work in this area. Their mission ranges from fraud and cybercrime to securing benefits and other services seniors need.

Heather shared the following:

“Unfortunately, seniors in Florida are a main target for fraud, cybercrime and exploitation. The Elder Law Section of the Florida Bar works diligently to ensure that laws are strengthened and enforced to prevent and protect seniors from these crimes. It is important that you stay in close contact with seniors in your family and neighborhood, talking to them about these risks. If you believe a senior is being neglected, abused or exploited, call Adult Protective Services at 1-800-962-2873 and local law enforcement. Legal intervention, such as guardianship, may be necessary to protect them.”

I had an opportunity to discuss these topics with Heather in more detail on our recent Biz & Tech Podcast.

You can hear that conversation below:

The FBI reports scams targeting seniors resulted in damages of $1.7 billion in 2021. And, unfortunately, that number is going nowhere but up.

Top scams listed by the National Council on Aging are Government, as you may expect, are impersonation and lottery scams.

But for education today, please take notice of another of the top scams — which starts with a phone call.

The “robocall scam” is when a criminal calls and asks if “you can hear them.”

If you say “yes” they record you saying that word and hang up.

They record you so they can have a voice signature used to potentially authorize fraudulent credit card charges while impersonating you that require a “yes” response over the phone. If someone calls and asks you or your loved ones if they can hear you — that’s the time to hang up.

“Romance scams” are also common and high up on the list; they target seniors assuming that they may be lonely and vulnerable to that kind of fraud. Other common scams you can read about via the NCOA.

There are resources available to protect seniors; groups like The Elder Law Section of The Florida Bar and Moody’s Senior Protection team are fighting the good fight. And we salute them.

Nevertheless, it takes all of us to get into the trenches.

If you see someone or something targeting seniors, call law enforcement. Talk to the seniors in your lives about texts, calls and emails they are getting.

You might just save them embarrassment (best case) or their life savings (worst case) by getting involved before a criminal talks our seniors out of their hard-earned retirement savings.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at [email protected].

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at www.aegisbiztech.com



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