If you’ve ever had to help someone understand a new piece of technology or a new app or program, you can end up feeling like a one-person tech support team, but a new campaign is underway that can help you protect people around you when they’re online. The Federal Trade Commission’s campaign is aimed at making sure you are armed and ready to protect the people you care about from identity theft and online scams.
The very same people who constantly come to you with questions about downloading software or installing new components are the ones who need this information to come from a trusted source: you. The FTC has put together information sheets on identity theft and several scams so you can “pass it on” to friends and family members and help them avoid becoming a statistic when it comes to online fraud.
Sadly, many of these scams target senior citizens who may be less savvy about Internet marketing and fraud, and more easily influenced by official-looking emails or direct threats accusing them of wrongdoing. They may be more likely to follow the directions in an email that tell them their account status has been compromised or that they owe large fines and penalties. When their inherent need to make sure they’re doing the right thing is coupled with their inexperience with computers, criminals can strike.
Of course, it’s not just older users who are at risk, especially now that cyber criminals have gotten very crafty about the types of emails they send out. It’s easy to see why people fall for heart-wrenching scams that use real people and situations, such as the 419 scam about Lt. Andrew Ferrara’s experience .
Of course, as awareness of this type of crime grows, you can expect identity thieves to come up with new and even more creative ways to attack. Always check out any unexpected emails thoroughly before responding, downloading content, or clicking on a link. Delete emails immediately if you can’t prove they’re genuine.
By raising awareness at a grassroots level and then arming those individuals with the right knowledge to share with others, the FTC’s Pass It On campaign can help put an end to this type of crime. The campaign addresses a number of crimes, including identity theft, charity and “found money” scams, healthcare and legal scams, and more. By learning to identify which online information is correct and which just doesn’t sound legitimate, you can help ensure that the people you know don’t become the next victim.
Eva Velasquez is president and CEO of the .