Protecting Older Adults from Scams in the Era of Artificial Intelligence

Can technology combat fraudulent schemes against our aging loved ones?

We now exist in a unique moment in the timeline of humanity where generations born into technology, better known as digital natives, have become adults. From Millennials to Gen Zers, these digital natives are living and working in a world that seems almost alien to that of their grandparents. As technology continues to advance at record speeds, the digital gap for our aging family and friends is growing exponentially.

For generations who are immersed in and reliant on technology, the digital divide makes it even more difficult to connect, communicate and engage with older adults. Moreover, many aging adults harbor a deep distrust of technology—and with good reason. Lacking a basic understanding of the ever-increasing complexities of today’s technologies puts our aging loved ones in a vulnerable position—and bad actors are taking note.

The FBI reports devastating scams targeting aging adults

According to The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2022 Elder Fraud Report, scams victimizing aging adults are common and rising. Tech and customer support scams are the most commonly reported fraud schemes reported by victims over 60, often executed by misleading these older adults into giving remote access to their computers under the guise of delivering tech or customer service support.

Another common scheme—investment fraud—saw a 300% increase in monetary losses in just one year from 2021 to 2022, largely due to the rise in cryptocurrency investment scams, with a 350% increase in reported losses alone. The crippling effects of these attacks on our aging population are staggering—with more than 88,000 victims reporting losses of $3.1 billion US dollars.

AI exploits vulnerabilities in today’s technologies

The frequency of these scams is increasing and, with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), becoming more sophisticated than ever. Older adults being conned over the phone or online is nothing new. However, now hackers are using these same outlets to trick even more people by using AI in sinister ways, making it almost impossible for even tech-savvy adults to detect scams. In fact, the FBI fraud report referenced above, shows that victims aged 30-39 (part of our digital native group) reported the most attacks, but victims over the age of 60 reported much higher monetary losses. This data highlights how sophisticated these attacks have become and emphasizes the need to protect the aging population from a new wave of schemes. To do this, we must look deeper into how these scams work and how technology can be used in new ways to more securely connect with older loved ones.

In a recent special on 60 Minutes, an ethical hacker and CEO of the data protection firm Social Proof Security showed staffers just how easy it is to scam someone using AI technology. Not only was the hacker able to manipulate a phone call so it looked as though it was coming from a fellow staff member, but she also used AI to mimic that person’s voice on the other end. Many of these scams use information found on public websites like phone numbers, addresses and names of family members. They then exploit this data to convince the person on the phone or online that a loved one needs help in the form of money or personal information like passport or license numbers. With applications that now allow these hackers to match the caller ID with the voice of a family member or friend, these scams take on new life with the ability to deceive almost anyone. What does this mean for groups like older adults who struggle to keep up with evolving technology threats? Perhaps, we could better protect our aging loved ones using an unexpected solution—technology itself.

How the HomeSight™ system can help

CommScope Home Networks’ HomeSight solution utilizes technology to connect and engage with aging loved ones, providing the ability to monitor some aspects of their lifestyle to promote health and wellness, reduce isolation and loneliness, and provide better home care, remotely, without sacrificing security.

The solution allows older adults to communicate with trusted contacts through video calling and photo and video sharing using the TV, the most familiar technology to this demographic. By utilizing the HomeSight system, older adults can be sure that the person on the other end is a trusted loved one with granted access to their platform. A familiar, user-friendly interface help aging adults gain confidence in the technology while simplifying secure access to family and friends.

Other features of the solution allow trusted family members to unobtrusively monitor some aspects of the home and its daily routines for greater peace of mind. The HomeSight solution is using technology for good—delivering innovation that helps combat illicit attacks on aging loved ones, while keeping them engaged in daily life and relationships for better overall wellness and longevity of living at home.

To learn more about CommScope Home Networks’ HomeSight solution, visit our website.

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