Human beings are wired to connect to other human beings in bonds known as relationships. All of us are born into familial relationships. There was a time when you had to venture out into the world—school, the workplace, or a social venue to meet people with whom you could pursue new relationships.
The internet has enabled a dizzying array of ways to connect with other people to share hobbies, support causes, and seek companionship. Venturing into a new relationship requires vulnerability. Criminals and crooks use a variety of tactics, collectively known as social engineering, to exploit this vulnerability to enrich themselves.
A recent study conducted by AARP and published in AARP The Magazine December 2021/January 2022 issue revealed that age doesn’t necessarily increase the odds that you will be a victim of social engineering. Your likelihood of being victimized online is related to your emotional state when the social engineering tactics arrive as an email, a text message, a voicemail, or a connection request on a social or dating website.
Older adults have more life experience and are often quite skilled at identifying social engineering tactics. The challenge these days is to keep up with the sophistication and manipulation of images and information that makes a person more likely to interact with a message.
You may think that you are immune to these requests because you left Facebook or have never created a profile on a dating site. Think again. Why did that random person ask you to play Words With Friends? Increasingly it may not be for fun, but because any opportunity to interact online could lead to a big payday for the cybercriminal.
This video illustrates many of the tactics used by cybercriminals to strike up online conversations with anyone online. Although the focus of this video mentions dating sites, the steps you take to protect yourself are universal across all internet-based apps and websites.
The longer we live, the more important it is to keep your social network similar in size to what it was when you were about to retire. Retirement may be highly desirable, but your access to the social network at work is minimized. Getting involved in community organizations, churches, and meet-up groups can enhance your ability to stay connected.
To be sure, older adults can be very vulnerable to relationship scams when they lose a spouse or partner. If you are dating for the first time after a long-term relationship, the entire dating universe has changed. Even before the pandemic, meeting prospective dates was an activity that had moved almost entirely online. The upside: a larger pool of prospective partners which increases your odds of finding a love match. The downside: sifting through dating websites chock full of profiles ‘engineered’ to be the ‘perfect’ match you seek. Watch the video a second time while you are perusing sites. You will likely start to notice the profiles that seem fake.
Let us know how your online search for dates or friends has gone.