The Exploitation of Senior Citizens
We’ve been doing computer repair work since 2011. In the past eight years, we have worked on thousands of computers and we’ve seen just about everything. All too frequently we’ve seen computer repair services taking advantage of senior citizens.
Far too often we have learned of people paying hundreds of dollars for unnecessary computer work that didn’t repair anything. Far too many times we have helped people who were frightened by some computer repair crook who told them that their computer was corrupted, infected or “hacked”. We see now, more than ever, companies that most consider legitimate preying on and scaring folks with the “dark web” threat, knowing full well that most people don’t know much at all about the dark web. Nothing frightens people more than the unknown.
We’ve watched dishonest companies prosper; we’ve seen crooks become wealthy. We’ve seen people scared into spending hundreds of dollars unnecessarily by one tech support scam or another. When we read a recent article in the “USAToday” newspaper, we were not shocked.
Here’s part of that article – and it’s so disturbing to us because, in our work, we see this going on every day.
$356,000 to protect your computer?
Feds promise ‘all-out attack’ on scams targeting the elderly
By Kevin Johnson|Mar. 7th, 2019 USAToday
WASHINGTON – One man, alarmed at the thought that hackers might attack his computer, shelled out $14,990 to a company promising a “fix” that would keep it safe.
Eight months later, the 68-year-old from Hawaii mailed the same company a check for $24,999 more. And he kept paying. All told, the unnamed man, who suffers from dementia, sent about $356,000 in checks and wire transfers, unaware that the computer security alert was part of a network of elaborate scams that the government says cost the nation’s elderly and infirm hundreds of millions of dollars over the past year alone.
The case is part of a heartbreaking archive of court documents filed in just the past year, charging more than 200 suspects with trying to swindle 2 million Americans, most of them elderly.
Federal authorities said the illicit operations, some based in the United States and others scattered across the globe, looted seniors of nearly $1 billion. The charges brought in the past 12 months, the second such enforcement campaign in as many years, represents the largest of the federal sweeps against elder fraud.
‘Crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in our society,’ Attorney General William Barr said Thursday. He said the Justice Department will intensify its efforts to target those cams (sic), promising to mount an ‘all-out attack.’…
We see this kind of thing all the time. Just in the past week, we did computer repair work for several people who were told their computers were corrupted or infected. These folks were offered “repairs” costing hundreds of dollars. Many times the cost of the repair was more than the cost of a new computer – and sometimes much more than a new computer.
We have been on the Web for twenty years and we thought we had seen it all, but it seems to us that things just keep getting worse. There is hardly a day that goes by that we don’t spend time trying put things in perspective for people who receive threatening or terrifying emails. The best defense against this new wave of selling by fear is the truth, but it’s hard to reach out to everyone.
And the truth is that legitimate companies and crooks alike are raking in billions of dollars by scaring people – particularly older folks – into buying something they don’t need or paying for computer “repairs” that are not necessary and which may actually their computers worse. By changing settings and drivers and so on, the computer tech ensures future computer problems and therefore a returning customer.
The problem is not limited to the elderly. But older folks, more than any other group, use their computers as their window on the world. More than younger people, seniors use their computers to keep in touch with their family and friends, to pass the time, to do social networking, to develop or engage in hobbies, and more. Many senior citizens use their computer to learn new things, to explore new places, to make travel plans, and keep up with the happenings around the world.
Crooks and miscreants pray on older people because they are more trusting. And let’s not forget, most people – young or old are not always computer savvy. Thus we have crooks preying on the older people – and taking millions of dollars from them because they are more trusting and not always computer savvy.
But it is not only the crooks. Lately, we have seen more and more legitimate companies using the boogeyman approach to sell products and services using fear to bolster sales.
“Your Social Security number was found on the dark web” is a popular subject line in the boogeyman approach to selling something. When you click the link to find out exactly where your Social Security number appeared and how it’s being used, don’t expect to get the information free – it’s going to cost you. And more often than not the threat will be either non-existent or trivial.
We work hard and spend a lot of time staying informed and keeping up with things so that we can help you. One of the most important ways we help you is by separating the truth from fiction and weeding out facts from the hyperbole.
But we’re just a very small company and our reach is limited. But that does not stop us from doing all we can to keep our readers – who we consider our friends – informed and up-to-date so they can enjoy using their computers without unwarranted fear. We help our readers separate the truth from the fiction – and the facts from the hyperbole.
We don’t want any of you to become a victim of a tech support scam or a fear-induced swindle. We don’t want you being frightened into action by an email from a legitimate company that resorts to fear to sell you a product or service you do not need. We don’t want you to be scared into buying a service because someone convinces you that your Social Security number is on the “Dark Web” and that you must take action — or else.
We don’t want you being tricked by some VPN company’s advertisements that want you to believe that for “just” $3.00 a month per computer, you can be protected from malware, hackers, viruses, identity theft, and all manner of evil by using a VPN service. It’s just not true.
Fear and panic are the arch enemies of common sense. When you know the facts and you know the truth, you’re less likely to panic. And if you don’t panic and you are not scared, you are going to think more clearly and you’re more likely to make the right choices, whether you’re a senior citizen or not.
We want to help keep you safe. We don’t want you to lose money you cannot afford to lose to swindlers and crooks. We don’t want you to spend as much or more on fake computer repairs as you’d spend on a brand new computer.
Every week we answer hundreds of emails from folks asking for help with their computers. And we don’t charge a penny. Our job is to keep you safe, keep you informed, and if you need computer repairs, offer you more than a fair price.
Sometimes we struggle financially but we never, ever, let that affect the way we run our business or influence what products or services we endorse and/or sell.
Our computer repair keys are $50 for one computer repair.
Our SeniorPass gets our friends 60 and older a year’s worth of computer repair and service for $99.
If you don’t need any of the products or services we offer, we accept donations. Even the smallest donation helps.
We want you to be safe. We want to save you money. We don’t want you to be a victim of a tech support scam, a computer repair service that preys on the elderly or spend your money on subscriptions to services that promise to keep you safe but don’t.
We want you to enjoy your computer and have fun. Like most everything else in this world, the Internet can be a very wonderful place or a very terrible place. We want you to have to fun and enjoy technology without worrying about the boogeyman. We don’t want you to be a victim of a scam or exploited by some tech support crook or online scheme to steal your money. We want to keep you safe by keeping you informed.
Thank you for reading this… and thank you for your friendship and your support.