Seniors should use technology to stay engaged, entertained, and connected, but they should also use prudence and take an interest in their safety. We are all susceptible to online frauds, but sadly, many of them target seniors specifically. Due to a range of particular weaknesses, senior citizens are frequently more vulnerable to Internet fraud and scams. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to sophisticated online scams because of their decreased computer and Internet literacy as well as their tendency to be more trusting and giving. Seniors must decide whether to risk solitude or risk becoming a victim of fraud and other crimes that target people online and then victimize them in real life because of cybercrime.
Support and education are the solutions.
You may learn how to utilize technology and, more importantly, how to be safe by using this comprehensive guide. Reach out to other people in your life if you are a senior and read through this guide with them. And if you live near any senior citizens, use this as an opportunity to assist them in getting online.
Online scams can be particularly dangerous to people who aren’t experienced in spotting them. Unfortunately, there are quite a few scams to look out for.
Here are some of the most common online scams:
Offers of free gifts and prizes
Offers of discounted prescription medications
Requests that claim to be from government agencies like the Social Security Administration that ask for personal info
Guidelines for maintaining your online safety
Maintain good computer security.
Install dependable security software, configure automatic updates, activate a firewall, and employ strong passwords. To set this up, you might need to employ a computer specialist, but be careful whenever you grant an outside company access to your computer. Make sure the business you select is respectable and has the necessary licenses and bonds. Even whether they claim to be from Microsoft, Dell, Apple, or another well-known computer company, be wary of anyone who contacts you to let you know there is a problem with your computer. NEVER give anyone who calls you offering “help” or informing you of a security breach remote access to your computer; instead, hang up the phone and take your computer to a reputable expert to have it looked at.
Keep your device updated. Every device has an operating system, which is the software it needs to function properly. Computers will use Windows or Mac OS, and tablets and smartphones use Android or iOS. Your device can be better protected from viruses if you keep the operating system updated. You should receive notifications when new updates are available, but you can also update your system manually.
Be sure to use secure passwords. One of the simplest, most effective things you can do to keep safe online is to use strong passwords. Avoid using passwords that are made up of widely used words, numbers, or keyboard patterns (such “password” or “123456”), and avoid using personal information like your name, date of birth, or the names of any family members. For each account, use a separate password.
Protect your wireless network. You need to protect your wireless network (also known as Wi-Fi) so that people living nearby can’t access it. Read the instructions that come with your wireless router to find out how to set up a ‘key’ (a type of password) so that no one else can access the internet through your router.
It might be difficult to manage “spam” or unsolicited email. Being inundated with junk email is rather typical. Receiving these mails alone may not be harmful, but it can be aggravating. They may occasionally come from businesses you’ve dealt with in the past, and if they’re reliable businesses, there will probably be a link to a page where you can safely request to be taken off their list. Even if you beg them to stop, if they are real “spammers,” they won’t. The best course of action is to make sure you’re utilizing the spam filter that your email service offers.
Scammers send bogus emails in the hope that people will enter their personal or financial details. They may direct you to a fake website, trick you into thinking you’ve won a lottery or prize.
Some emails, known as spam or junk, may also have a link or file attached for you to click on or open. Opening these links or downloading the files may harm your device.
Scam emails can look genuine and appear to be from official places, like HMRC or a bank, but you can often tell it’s a scam. Look out for:
Errors in the spelling or grammar, or an unusual style of writing.
Requests for personal information, such as your username, full password or bank details genuine organisations will never ask this.
Threats that unless you act now, a deal will expire or your account closed.
Scammers create fake websites which look official, requesting you to provide personal or financial information. For example, a fake bank website may be set up asking you to update your account or security information. Often, they will look very similar and only a few details may be different.
There are also websites set up to look like a copy of a service offered by government websites. For example, websites which offer to help you apply for a passport renewal or a new driving licence. Although they are not illegal, these websites charge extra money if you use them, rather than going directly through the official government department where the service is free of charge.
Limit your sharing.
Quizzes and surveys that are actually frauds are frequently targeted at social networking sites and websites that cater to senior people; these quizzes frequently ask intrusive questions about private information including health, wealth, assets, income, how many children you have, and family names. Even if some of these quizzes might not be scams, you should always use caution while using the Internet and avoid disclosing any personal information about you or your family in an online quiz or survey.
When dating online, use caution.
For senior folks, online dating is becoming more and more common. Many elderly people are lonely because they lost their mate to death or divorce. Online dating has become very popular because it’s a great method to meet new people. Predators can easily discover potential victims for their scams by using online dating, usually with the intention of obtaining money from the victims. Therefore, if you decide to go online dating, make sure to follow these simple safety precautions: If you decide to meet in person, make sure to do so in a public place and to let your loved ones know when and where you will be meeting. Never give out your address or personal phone number unless you have developed a strong rapport and are ready to take your online dating relationship to the next level with in-person dating. This is true regardless of the sob story someone gives you.
Never click on a link that was supplied to you by someone you don’t know.
Never reply to an email requesting your credit card number or account details.
A deal is not true if it seems too good to be true.
Never send money to a stranger or a country or state you don’t know.
The most effective con tricks provide to protect you from fraud and fraud warnings. Reach out to a trustworthy person rather than someone who contacts you if you are worried that your computer, email, or online account has been compromised.
If you didn’t enter a lottery or sweepstakes, you didn’t win one of those things. Do not think that by paying a small amount to collect your prize, you will receive a large sum back; actual lottery winners do not have to pay anything up front.
Shop only from reliable internet retailers. Any internet retailer you have never heard of should be approached with caution. Many are trustworthy, but some can be trying to steal your credit card number or other personal data, or they might just not give you what you paid for. If you’re unsure, consult someone who is experienced with internet purchasing or look up the retailer online to see if there are any reviews or comments. Look for safe websites with a https in the browser’s address bar when doing your banking or shopping. “S” for “secure” is used here. It’s not a secure site if the only protocol is http. Make sure the mobile app was published by that company if you use it to shop or bank. If you’re unsure, read reviews from other people or consult an expert.
Pay with a credit card. When feasible, use a credit card or PayPal instead of a debit card. You can relax knowing that most credit cards offer security against unauthorized purchases.
Your account should not be used to store your payment information. You can choose to save your credit card number on many websites in your account. This implies that anyone with access to your account can use your card to make purchases. Although entering your card number repeatedly can be annoying, it adds an extra measure of security.
Avoid using cellular or public WiFi to conduct online shopping. Wait until you are connected to a password-protected, private wireless network, such as the one in your house. Criminals frequently attempt to intercept data from public networks, including credit card information. You can also utilize a Virtual Private Network, a service that encrypts your internet traffic and is available for either free or a fee.
The majority of charity offer online donation options and websites. That’s okay as long as you’re certain you’re on the correct website and that the charity you support is a real one. If you receive an email asking you to donate money online from what appears to be a charity, be wary. Visit CharityNavigator.org to learn more about the organization if you are unfamiliar with it. Also be sure you are heading to the charity’s official website if you plan to donate online. To be secure, enter the website address of the charity directly into the browser rather than selecting a link.
Internet usage among seniors is evolving.
A growing percentage of grandparents use social media to stay in touch with friends and family.
While this is excellent for reducing the social isolation that many older people feel, it also necessitates that they receive instruction on how to use social media safely.
Check out these social media safety guidelines with your grandparents.
adjusting the security settings on websites like Facebook, refraining from sharing private information like phone numbers and addresses, and verifying a person’s identity before accepting a friend request are all good practices.
The foundation of Facebook is the idea of “friends,” or the people you grant access to your Facebook page. However, the definition of a “friend” on Facebook is a little more expansive than you may imagine. You should only accept friend requests from persons you are familiar with. Who you consider a friend is up to you. People you want to be friends with can request to be your friend by responding to your invitations. You may probably receive invites from people you don’t know who want access to your page, even though the majority of the people who ask to be your friend are people you actually know. You should reject the friend request if this occurs.
The front-facing camera on newer iPhone and iPad models, which do not have a Home button, can scan your face and recognize you when you only glance at the screen.
Select the Set Up An Alternate Appearance option from the Face ID & Passcode section in Settings if you want your iPhone or iPad to be able to recognize more people. In order to scan and save the extra faces, follow the onscreen instructions. Alternately, you can give someone else access to your mobile device by sharing the passcode, but only if you have complete faith in that individual.
Age Safe America, “ Internet Safety for Seniors”, AGE SAFE AMERICA, 6 April 2019. https://agesafeamerica.com/internet-safety-for-seniors/
Connect Safely, “ Senior’s Guide to Online Safety”, Connect Safely, April 2018. https://www.connectsafely.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Seniors-Guide-to-Online-Safety.pdf
Celeste Tholen, “How can I keep grandma and grandpa safe online?”, Safewise, 29 March 2022. https://www.safewise.com/faq/senior-safety/senior-internet-protection/
AgeUK, “Staying safe online”, AgeUK, 28 April 2022. https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/work-learning/technology-internet/internet-security/