The biggest shopping day of the year is no longer Black Friday. Previously, this was the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Now, we turn our attention to the following Monday, known as Cyber Monday. 

Instead of battling traffic and crowds at brick-and-mortar stores, Cyber Monday offers online access to holiday shopping deals from the comfort of your home. This is an ideal shopping experience for many of us, including seniors who may find it more difficult to leave their homes. The downside is that this also puts seniors at risk of Cyber Monday scams.

Let us share with you several examples of common online scams every senior, and his or her loved ones, should know this November.

1. Do not send personal information in an email. You attempt to purchase a gift from an unfamiliar website, but the seller sends an automated message saying the order did not go through and that you need to send an email with your personal billing information. Do not comply! No matter how legitimate or “hassle free” it may seem, never send your personal information in an email. You might also call your credit card company and ask them to watch for suspicious activity.

2. Be careful of suspicious links. A Facebook friend messages you a generic greeting, such as “How are you?,” and the message includes a website link. Do not click on it. The friend’s account may have been hacked. The message could be automated spam that was spread throughout your friend’s contact list. Clicking on the link could compromise your personal data. Simply call the friend and ask if he or she sent the link.

3. Review Mobile Apps Asking for Access to Your Location. Smart phone mobile apps often ask for access to your current location. Some, like Google Maps, need the information to function, but others may use your permission to gain access to your online activity. If you do not recognize the app company, or if you are not comfortable, do not grant permission. 

4. Reject “Urgent” Requests. If you are visiting a website and a pop-up window appears claiming that you have to click on a button to claim a prize, or perhaps avoid a penalty, then leave the site immediately. Scammers often use the threat of urgency to induce users to click on dangerous phishing or malware links.

While the holiday season is a fun time for all of us, and you may love the thrill of Black Friday, be careful. Be aware that scammers are out there and do the best you can to protect yourself and your senior loved ones. As always, do not hesitate to contact us with your estate planning and elder law questions by scheduling a meeting with Attorney Hougum.