Historically, our elders haven’t particularly involved themselves with technology, leaving their inboxes and online activities to the younger generations to deal with. However, as having an online presence has now generally been normalised for all ages, it does pose another threat to older people. As they are typically less knowledgeable about the internet, it can leave them vulnerable.
The solution isn’t to prohibit our more senior family members from spending their time online. Instead, it is our responsibility to put some preventative measures in place to reduce the chances of our loved ones from being scammed, as well as educating them on what to do if or when it occurs. Read our guide on how exactly you can protect your family members from tactical online scams.
Education is key
Many individuals from older generations often don’t want much to do with technology, especially when being lectured on how to use it. However, one of the more essential tools to protect your older family members from different scams is sitting down with them to explore the threat and any preventative measures which can be established. Drawing their awareness to key things to look out for with potential scams is useful as they can learn to protect themselves, rather than you monitoring their online usage or worrying about them tirelessly.
The main things to keep an eye out for are:
- Emails from contacts who may have been hacked and are asking for money, or have attachments (they may contain viruses which could breach your security, or have a link to a fake website.
- Tax refund emails offering them a refund (HMRC don’t send tax refunds via email).
- Emails containing bills or invoices for something they don’t recognise.
- Fake Facebook accounts, pretending to be family members and demanding payments.
Knowing what to look out for can drastically reduce the likelihood of anyone falling for a scam. Although, knowing how to protect yourself so that no scams are attempted in the first place is a preferable solution.
You should set up their computer or mobile phone with some security features. Firstly, create a strong-password with varied characters and one which has a reasonable length. Ideally, each website account used should require a different password, because if one password is stolen, it can’t be used to access every other account. If you are worried about your older family member forgetting which passwords to use, install an autofill password manager to help them. Secondly, it may be worth installing antivirus software to their computer, as this can prevent websites or email attachments from installing viruses and exploiting any available data they might have.
Help monitor their accounts
While everyone is entitled to their privacy, if you believe that your family member would be safer if you helped monitor their emails and they are happy to provide access, it might be a great way to keep them protected from tactical online scams. Email, in particular, is a place where criminals have developed very convincing scams and are continuously becoming much harder to recognise. If you find that you are too late and your family member has already involved themselves, you may be able to take action.
Scammers typically send very relevant emails to older people, such as messages relating to retirement or pensions. If your older family member has fallen victim to a pension scam or has been mis-sold a SIPP, you can get support from Get Safe Online or even make a claim against them. Thankfully, if you follow the steps in this guide to help protect your family members during their online activities, their chances of being exploited are likely to be dramatically lower.