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Tech Tips

Marin Villages helps older adults manage their technology, from smartphones, smart tablets, smart watches, smart TV and of course laptop and desktop computers.

This page will offer reqular tips from Marin Villages tech volunteers and members and will tap into some of the great videos and other information on the internet that are geared to providing technology assistance to seniors.

Technology / Computer Help Office Hours

3rd Wednesday of the month
July 17th, 4:00 – 5:30pm

via Zoom

Issues with your printer? iPhone not syncing properly? If so, join our volunteer tech support group for the answers to these and all of your other burning technology questions! We look forward to continuing to help solve your frustrating tech problems. This is a space where you can "drop in," ask questions, and receive personalized, individually focused, expert tech advice from some of our wonderful tech volunteers. Even if you'd just like to sit in to learn a little more about technology, we'd love to have you participate! So bring your questions about your computers, tablets, phones, smart watches and smart TVs etc., and our dedicated tech volunteers will do the rest. This opportunity is available to all Marin Villages members and volunteers. Please join us at this link!

Tip of the Month - Scams and Phishing

Every year, roughly 7 million adults, 65 and older, fall victim to senior scams and while seniors are 20 percent less likely than younger people to fall for scams the median loss is often much greater. Marin Villages continues to prioritize education on helping its members avoid scams.

An in-person event is being planned with several tech volunteers, to delve in deeper and answer your specific questions on scams and phishing – more details soon. In the interim, please check out the guidance at the end of the article on how to make it difficult for the bad actors. If you have been a victim of a scam or fraud, contact the office for help and advice.

Credit Card & Debit Card Hacks
The majority of frauds reported by members relate to credit and debit card theft, which is a slighly different category to the scamming and phishing activity, discussed below. It is strongly recommended you set up alerts on your credit cards so you are informed of all transactions and can quickly deal with any fraudulant items. Usage of debit cards is not advised, but if you have to use one, limit the amount than can be withdrawn on a debit card. Using a digital wallet such as Apple Pay or Google Pay on your phone or smartwatch can provide additional security as long as your devices are properly secured.

Social Engineering
Scammers use various communication methods to try and obtain your personal information and data – emails, text messaging, voice calls, social media, fake websites, pop-ups on browsers, etc. They particularly target passwords, your date of birth, account numbers, credit card details, “secret questions” or Social Security numbers and Medicare information.

You might get an unexpected email, phone call, or text message that looks like or sounds as if it’s from a company you know or trust - a bank or a credit card utility company, a government organization, or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app you use for online shopping.

The bad actors
The scammers will use various tactics, to try and gain your trust often using personal identifiable information but will often exploit grief or emotional instability due to a major life change. They may resort to intimidation tactics and will try and ensure you remain isolated and don’t communicate with the authorities, trusted friends or family members. It's important to stay calm.

Typical Tactics From Scammers:
• Say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts on your account — they haven’t.
• Claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t.
• Want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware, and you may be supplying your credentials.
• Tell you your computer has been infected with a virus or pornography – it has not.
• Say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t.
• Email an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake.
• Claim a close relative is in some trouble - they aren't.
• Say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam.
• Offer employment opportunities or way to earn additional revenue – with some upfront payment – it’s not a real job.
• Offer free stuff, lottery winnings or prizes — it’s not real.

Their goal is to extract money and they are very good at it!

As scams become more sophisticated with the use of artificial intelligence, it is important you know how to spot a scam and how to avoid them. 

Spotting scams
• Be skeptical of online deals that seem too good to be true, especially on social media.
• Scammers will often use tactics to make you panicked so you make quick decisions - be cautious if you are told to take immediate action and verify who has contacted you.
• Banks warn customers to "never return any unexpected funds without calling the first."
• Never send money to someone you have only spoken to online or by phone as this is likely a romance scam.
• Unless you 100% know who you are talking to, never give someone remote access to your device.
• Never accept help from strangers at an ATM and always be vigilant when making withdrawals.
• Do not send money or click any links indicating that you have won a prize.
Common scams
Common categories of scams, especially those targeting seniors include Investment, Debt relief/reduction/collection, Technology, Romance, Grandchild in peril, Lottery / Prizes, Pets, Social Media Account takeovers, and Charities.

Payment methods requested by the scammer will be “unusual” and hard to trace - cash, gift cards, reloadable debit cards, cashier checks, crypto, casino withdrawals, requests from peer-to-peer apps (Venmo, Zelle, PayPal etc.). The scammers will want you to take immediate action and not to pause or carefully think through what you are being asked to do. Remember gift cards are for birthdays - nothing else! 

AARP has a very comprehensive website detailing over 70 different scams Other resources are listed at the end of the article.

The aftermath of a fraud
Victims of scams feel very embarrassed, they can’t believe they have been duped. They feel "stupid". They don’t want to be “victim shamed” and will often hide the fraud from their family and friends. However, it is very important to reach out and report the scam and seek help and counselling. Remember, you are not alone – it’s not your fault and it can happen to anyone (and does!).

What steps can you take to make it more difficult for the bad actors
You can be pro-active, and while nothing is 100% secure, you can make it much more difficult for potential scammers:

• Place a credit freeze with the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian,Transunion) - using the links below:
Reqularly review your financial statements.
Trust but verify! Take a moment to
pause before taking any action, and carefully double-check the identity of the person or organization who is initiating contact. Remember that voices can be cloned and phone numbers spoofed.
Set-up multi-factor authorization (MFA) with a trusted authenticator app using biometrics where available (this is more secure than using two-factor authentication (2FA) via text message).
Use complex passwords and a password manager (Apple’s KeyChain (if a Mac user), Google Password Manager, or a reputable 3rd party password manager) and use device biometrics (FaceID or fingerprints) via passkeys where available.
Consider using anti-virus / anti malware software.
Keep your devices updated with the latest software.
Don't answer calls from unrecognized numbers and be suspicious of CallerID. Don't engage.
• Set up secret verbal codewords with your children grandchildren, family members and trusted friends - a word or phrase that only you and those closest to you know.
• When setting up "secret questions" don't use personally identifiable data - make up answer
• Review your friends lists on your social media account - keep your accounts private by setting to "friends and family".
• Limit your personal information on social media and the internet. Don't give out your correct birthday. etc unless absolutely necessary.

AARP is a great resource - they have a comprehensive area covering scams and phishing activity - currently listing examples of around 70 different types of scams Additionally, check out their podcast - The Perfect Scam which is very educational and great for those who enjoy true crime stories. (transcripts are available on the site). Plus if you want some video “entertainment” the site lists 12 movies about con-artists

AARP Podcast - The Perfect Scam

AARP Fraud Watch
AARP Scam Tracking Map
AARP Scamline
1-877-908-3360 – for reporting scams and obtaining help and advice.
Federal Trade Commision (FTC)
How to recognize and avoid phishing scams:
Internet Theft Resource Center
FBI - Internet Crime Complaints (IC3)
Department of Justice
Washington Post Tech Column (subscription required)

When do you need to share your social security or driving license number?

Articles worth reading


Other Tech Tips:

Avoid Scam Calls

Name Drop

iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch Tips
How to use the Apple keychain to manage passwords