Centenarian Facebook User Adds a Few Wrinkles to Site


Another Aging Care user suggested that senior social networkers equip themselves with assistive technology, such as large print keyboards and accessibility settings to make it easier to get online and stay connected. But Joe Buckheit, Aging Care's president, warned about the potential danger for seniors who cruise social sites: They're frequently targeted by "granny scammers," con artists who've caught onto the fact that older folks are flocking to social media to share details about their personal lives.

A common "granny scam" is "the relative in distress": A thief grabs personal information from an elderly person's Facebook page, then phones the person masquerading as a loved one who's gotten into an accident and is in dire need of cash. The Federal Trade Commission reported that 60,000 complaints about this type of fraud were filed last year.

To protect elders, Buckheit advised making sure they are aware of the scam. Instruct them to ask detailed personal questions if they get a call from a panicked relative and to hang up and call the relative back on a known number. They need to verify the information with another relative. If the caller says to keep it a secret, that's a red flag.

If they've already fallen prey to a scam, Buckheit said to stop payment on any checks or wire transfers immediately and contact both the police and the three credit bureaus to let them know there's been a possible crime committed.

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