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[June 13, 2014]
Los Angeles teaches seniors cyber-crime self-defense [Daily News, Los Angeles :: ]
(Daily News (Los Angeles, CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 13--Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has some cautionary advice for seniors: Cyberspace can be a dangerous and expensive place.
And to hammer home the point, his office, along with the city's Department of Aging, has initiated a public awareness campaign to empower and protect the elderly from scammers who troll the Internet looking for easy cash.
The campaign, called "Take Off Your Rose Colored Glasses: Things Are Not Always What They Seem," is anchored by a series of cybersafety seminars. The first was Friday at the Bernardi Senior Center in Van Nuys, and 15 others are planned across the city into next month.
"With seniors using computers and smartphones with more and more frequency, it's imperative to train them how to avoid being the victims of scams," Feuer said Friday. "It's so much more effective for all of us to pre-empt these kinds of scams in the first place rather than have to deal with them later and prosecute after the fact.
"And how much nicer is it for seniors not to be a victim in the first place." Laura Trejo, general manager of the Department of Aging, noted a recent survey of Los Angeles seniors showed 84 percent agree they need to be using technology.
"Many cite how the Internet is important in helping them stay connected to family, friends and the wider world," she said in a statement. "However, emerging technologies also require that seniors be vigilant to prevent being victimized." Officials said that each year millions of Americans become victims of financial exploitation through telephone and mail marketing schemes, investment scams and unscrupulous individuals abusing positions of trust. As more older people make use of smartphones, laptops and tablets and some 400,000 people over the age of 65 living in Los Angeles, opportunities for fraud abound.
Rounding out the outreach are brochures, posters and video messages being unveiled throughout the year to increase awareness of the dark side of cyberspace, and in January, the City Attorney's Office will host an Elder Abuse Prevention Symposium.
Feuer himself said he will attend some of the safety seminars, including one at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at One Generation Senior Center, 18255 Victory Blvd., Reseda.
In the meantime, he and Trejo offered five cybersafety tips: --If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
--Do not give out personal information unless you know who you are dealing with.
--Don't be obvious with passwords -- and change them often.
--Be cautious on email, even if it appears to be from a friend or relative, because it may not be.
--Report suspicious activity.
The campaign is funded in part by a grant from the California Attorney General's Privacy and Piracy Fund.
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