More seniors are spending time online than ever before. Technology can benefit seniors in so many ways – it can help them connect with loved ones, get essential goods and services without leaving their home, and provides opportunities to stay in contact with their communities.
Anyone can be a target for cybercriminals, and there are a variety of ways that attacks can occur. Avoiding scams and predators online is critical for anyone that spends time online, but even more for seniors. Older adults need to be aware of potential scams and know how to stay diligent while online. According to Cybercrime Magazine, estimated losses from scams on the elderly are thought to cost families 36 billion annually.
Staying Safe Online
Like all powerful tools, the internet and mobile technologies come with some risks. These risks can be managed if users follow some basic rules: Here are five ways that seniors can stay safe online:
- Security software – There are a variety of anti-virus and anti-spyware software options that can help protect a senior online. Ensuring the program is installed properly is critical and running updates on a regular basis ensures that new threats are mitigated. It is also important to make sure to update the software on computers, tablets, and mobile devices to the latest version when those updates are released. These updates protect users from bugs and provide software patches to protect from hackers.
- Limit access to accounts – Scammers often try to steal the personal and financial information that seniors access online. To keep this data secure, users should enable two-factor authentication where it is offered and never send personal information to those they don’t know. Most importantly, users need to be mindful about creating smart, strong p@$5w0rDz!. Seniors should never use the names of loved ones, birthdates, or common words. Strong passwords also include a mix of upper/ lower case, numbers, and symbols.
- Evaluate emails – Email is one of the primary tools that people use to steal information from older people online. Remember that financial institutions will never ask for account information through email, and sending account numbers, passwords or personal information is never a good idea. If a senior is not sure whether their financial institution is trying to reach them about a problem, they can always call and discuss any issues with their bank.
- Shop online and access social media safely – One common way that information can be stolen online is through fake shopping sites. Shopping for trusted vendors is helpful and there are often online reviews for merchants that will alert shoppers to potential scams. Seniors should also remember to use a credit card instead of a debit card when possible, and monitor accounts regularly for fraudulent activity. The same goes for social media accounts. Fraudsters use quizzes and faux profiles to gain access to users’ social media accounts by posing as another person within the network or by using the information a user has posted to try to guess “secret question” answers.
- Providing help – Seniors should not be afraid to reach out to their trusted loved ones or friends if they feel uncomfortable online or need help navigating security measures. For those concerned about the seniors in their life, they can help educate them about known scams and tactics for staying vigilant and can help with software updates. Calling customer service at a bank or store can help clear up confusion if an email, communication, or transaction looks wrong. Having a trusted team of people that can help with online issues can give seniors more confidence using the technology available to them.
Another option would be a more controlled environment with security built right in.
GrandPad® is designed with seniors in mind – the innovative device comes with features for connecting with loved ones, without the complicated features of other tablets. The large buttons and intuitive interface make the GrandPad a simple tablet for seniors who are ready to start video chatting and sharing memories with family and friends around the world. When you sign up for a GrandPad subscription you’ll receive a one-of-a-kind tablet, along with senior-friendly accessories designed to make the device comfortable and ergonomic. The smart case protects the tablet while remaining soft to the touch. The charging cradle eliminates the hassle of wires from the charging process. The durable stylus makes interacting with the tablet a breeze. All of the user’s preferences and contacts come preloaded in the tablet so it’s ready-to-use right out of the box.
Cybercrime Magazine. “3 Cyber Fraud Tactics Targeting Seniors and Why They’re So Effective.” Web. 2019.
AT&T Cybersecurity. “Top Cybersecurity Threats for Seniors.” Web. 2019.
ZDNet. Cybersecurity: Why more needs to be done to help older people stay safe online. Web. 2019.
National Cybersecurity Alliance. “Online Safety Basics: Online Shopping.” Web. 2020.