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Cyber Safety For Seniors: Avoiding Online Scams

  • February 20, 2019
Cyber Safety For Seniors: Avoiding Online Scams

It’s hard to avoid talk of cybercrimes these days. It seems as though every day, the news shares stories about cyber attacks; at this point, it’s almost impossible not to know someone who has been affected by cybercrime. And while the internet has been a powerful and useful tool for many of us, it can also make you an easy target for cybercriminals.

While many criminals will still target senior citizens the old fashioned way—in person or over the phone—their new medium of choice is the internet. Cyber safety for seniors is particularly important because they are a vulnerable demographic, with many criminals assuming that seniors online don’t know how to spot a scam.

These days, more and more seniors are adopting technology via computers and smartphones. Cyber safety for seniors can not only help you better navigate the web, but it can also help to protect your bank account and identity.

Seniors Online

While research has shown that older Americans have been slower to adopt technology than other age groups, it has also found that senior smartphone use has gone up over the past few years. In 2012, the Pew Research Center discovered that more than half of adults aged 65 and older were internet users.

Google partnered with research firm Ipsos to conduct a study of the internet habits of more than 6,000 boomers and seniors. Among their findings:

  • 78 percent of boomers and 52 percent of seniors are online.

  • The two groups combined spend an average of 19 hours on the internet each week--more than any other medium.

  • 71 percent of boomers and 52 percent of seniors use a social networking site on a daily basis. The most popular site of choice? Facebook.

Many seniors find having access to the world at their fingertips is synonymous with freedom. It can keep you connected to friends and family who have moved away and help you to remain engaged in current events—in real time. There are a host of advantages for seniors who go online, but cyber safety for seniors is a necessary component to surfing securely.

Internet Safety Tips For Adults

The Internet can be a dangerous place, so internet safety tips for adults can be especially valuable. While there is no way to stop scammers from coming up with new ways to prey on people, there are some things to consider that will promote cyber safety for seniors.

The Center for Internet Security recommends these internet safety tips for adults:

Keep An Eye On The Sender. Be wary of emails, websites or social media messages that:

  • Offer "free" gifts, prizes or vacations, or claim that "You're a winner!"

  • Offer discount prescription medications or other "can't miss" deals

  • Appear to be from friends or family members, but the message is written in a style not usually used by that person, has numerous misspellings, or otherwise seems unusual. This is an indication your friend or family member's account may have been hacked

  • Appear to be from official government agencies, such as Social Security Administration, or banks, requesting personal information

  • Set ultimatums such as "your account will be closed," or "the deal will expire" to create a sense of urgency, and trick the victim into providing personal information

Practice Better Internet Safety At Home. Seniors online need to:

  • Keep your wireless network protected with a secure password

  • Make passwords for important websites--especially ones that store bank account or credit card data--unique and strong, using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers

  • Use caution when posting personal information on websites or social media platforms. For example, never post on social media when you are going away on vacation because it can be an invitation for people to rob you while you are away

  • If you’re ever confused about what to do with a potentially suspicious email, just delete it

Safe Seniors Online, Safe At Home

Cyber safety for seniors is only one component of remaining safe as you age. Remaining safe at home, especially for independent seniors who live alone, can be vital to aging well. Investing in a medical alert device from Medical Guardian will provide you with an affordable solution to connecting to help when you need it most.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hilary Young is a health and wellness expert that specializes in both senior life and caregiving. She'd love to hear more about your thoughts on aging, healthy living, and caregiving, and you can find her on Twitter at @hyoungcreative to start the conversation.


KEYWORDS: senior scams, cyber safety tips for seniors, internet safety tips for adults, cyber safety, seniors online