PRR – Additional Needs – Cybercrime


For many senior citizens, it can be challenging to navigate the increasingly complex cyber world and avoid falling into the traps of online scams. Roughly 67% of U.S. seniors have been victims or targets of at least one online scam or hack. Many fraudulent schemes tend to target this population in order to extract personal information such as social security and bank account number. Unfortunately, cybercrime is considered a low-risk crime, so many cases often go unreported and are often difficult to prosecute.

Here are some red flags that you may be encountering an online scam and what you can do to protect yourself!



Tech support scam

What to look out for: As you are browsing the internet, a window pop-up and says your computer has a virus or has been hackied. It says you need to download a program to fix your computer.

What to do: Close the pop-up window or your computer. Do not give them any information. Go to a computer-repair store or install a trusted anti-virus program, if necessary.



Don’t fall for e-mail scams. Avoid engaging with suspicious e-mails and do not open any attachments. Delete the message. Here are a few examples of what suspicious e-mails may look like:

1. Grandparent scam

What to look out for: A con artist sends you a message and poses as a relative in need of help. You are asked to send money to help them.

2. Bogus charity scam

What to look out for: emails like this often follow natural disaster events and ask you to send money. Go to authorized websites to make donations.

3. Lottery scam:

An email tells you that you have won the lottery, a prize such as gift cards, or money.



General tips:

  • If you do not know who the sender is, do not respond to the e-mail and do not open any attachments.
  • Do not send money or give out personal information in response to unexpected online requests.
    • Confirm with the person you are making transaction to in real life.
    • Make sure you are using secure, official banking sites for financial matters.
    • Make purchases through HTTPS websites as opposed to HTTP websites. S=”secure”
  • Exit out of pop-up windows.
  • Do not trust someone simply because they know personal information about you. Scammers can easily obtain basic information about you.
  • Use an antivirus program if possible.
  • Create strong passwords.
  • Ask trusted family members and friends for help if in doubt.

If you have been a victim of internet crime or fraud, what should you do?

  • Call your credit card company immediately.
  • Report fraud to Los Angeles Dept. of Consumer Affairs 213-974-1452 or (specifically for Los Angeles County residents)
  • Internet Crime Complaint Center (
  • Update the malware or anti-virus program on your computer.



Learn how to navigate the Internet safely and protect yourself!

Here are some helpful resources: Courses on how to familiarize yourself with the computer and prevent falling victim to online scam


Also, check out the Los Angeles Public Library’s Calendar of Events for free digital literacy workshops and classes.




How to report a cybercrime:

Cybercrimes are difficult to prosecute not only due to the difficulty in tracking perpetrators but also because they often cross legal jurisdictions and even international boundaries.

Who to contact:

Local law enforcement: Even if you have been the target of a multijurisdictional cybercrime, your local law enforcement agency has an obligation to assist you, take a formal report, and make referrals to other agencies

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center. Complaints may be filed online at

Federal Trade Commission: The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints, but does operate the Consumer Sentinel, a database that is used by civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide. File your complaint at Wizard.aspx?Lang=en.

Your Local Victim Service Provider: Most communities in the United States have victim advocates ready to help following a crime. Find local victims service providers here:

When responding to a cybercrime it is very important to keep any evidence of the crime so that when you are filing a report to authorities they have as much information to potentially prosecute or help prevent this cybercrime from happening to other individuals:

Evidence can include:

•Text Messages
•Credit card receipts
•Log files, if available, with date, time and time zone
•Messages from Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites

•Money order receipts
•Printed or electronic copies of emails •Printed or electronic copies of web pages •Wire receipts

Depending on the type of cybercrime it is also key to protect other personal information that may have become vulnerable to unauthorized use or fraud. If you are a victim of cybercrime, it is important to change the passwords for all your online accounts that contain sensitive personal information such as bank account numbers, credit and debit card numbers, healthcare/medical insurance information, and your social security number. Victims of cybercrimes may also want to contact companies to notify them that someone may be using their identity and to have new credit and debit cards sent to them.

Sources: bercrime.pdf


Recovering from a cybercrime has to mainly deal with learning how to detect when something may be a scam or not, therefore, allowing the individual to not fall victim to this type of crime in the future.

When an individual or a business that you do not know contacts you via email or through a social networking site,always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. A rule of thumb to remember if you are being contacted and offered a deal or incentive that sounds too good to be true is that there is a high likelihood this may in fact be a scam. Also, it is important that you do research on the individuals or businesses that are contacting you by searching for information on the internet and outside sources rather than relying on details that they are providing you.


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