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How can caregivers avoid falling victim to online scams?


Caregivers are often on the lookout for health products or services that could help their loved ones find some relief. Among thousands of legitimate providers, threat actors are also crafting phishing campaigns to get their hands on your wallet.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, celebrating the love, care, and medical assistance caregivers provide for their beloved family members. It is also a month of scams, phishing, and malware, with cybercriminals lurking to take advantage of the vulnerable.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse, with almost £2.3bn lost in one year to scams, according to Which?. The highest surge was seen across the online shopping sector (65% up from last year) and text/phone scams (83%.)

Some of the most popular tactics employed by cybercriminals were utilizing fake websites to trick users into purchasing non-existing goods or sending texts requesting an administration fee.

Why do cybercriminals target caregivers?

When it comes to caregivers, they present a rather niche target for malicious actors. First of all, they likely care for elders who are not exceptionally tech-savvy. Second, they are simply easy to target: those people have a market demand that threat actors can deceptively propose to fill.

From fake products and service offers arriving via email to fraudulent job advertisements: caregivers can come to experience them all. Furthermore, elderly “patients” might also fall victim to scams, which could cost care providers on average $36,000, according to the Safeguarding Our Seniors study.

However, there is more to it than it first seems. Cybercriminals might not look so much for direct financial gain but for your (or the person’s you care for) information. That data is worth as much as $350 on the black market, and new threat actors can then exploit it further.

How to avoid becoming a health scam victim?

According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission, there are many things you can do to make sure you approach any online proposition or health offer in a sensible manner.

  • First of all, investigate. If you receive an offer via email, don’t click on any links, but rather type the name of the product yourself and read the reviews. You should always be able to purchase it from reputable websites by doing a quick Google search.
  • Second, remember that there is no magical remedy that suddenly appears online. There is no benefit to hiding experimental drugs or working treatments from the public, so your general practitioner will most definitely know about the product if it exists. Before buying, check with a healthcare professional whether it does what it claims to do and is suitable in your cared-for’s specific case.
  • Lastly, remember to always be sensible. If you receive an offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The FTC also recommends being very cautious of the word “natural” in product descriptions, as they can be both ineffective and cause problems by not working well with the person’s prescribed medications.

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