Precautions seniors can take to avoid falling victim to online scams

A positive outcome of Covid-19 has been the rapid development of digitized healthcare. Since the outbreak a wealth of innovative solutions have come to market to ease the burden of isolation and loneliness. The pandemic has also encouraged the older generation to embrace these services and the benefits they offer during these uncertain times. Seniors who had never used a computer, smartphone or tablet before the outbreak are now tech experts and have more knowledge about email, ecommerce, online finance, Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facebook, WhatsApp etc than they could have ever thought possible in a pre-Covid-19 world.

It is somewhat ironic then that apart from being the most susceptible group from a health standpoint, they’re potentially the most at risk to online scams being pushed out on the very same platforms that allow them to keep in contact with their loved ones. Virtual living is challenging at best. It can be particularly daunting for seniors because many are simply unaware of the security aspect associated with digital services and the precautions you need to take to protect personal and financial data, making them easy targets for the scammers.

The frequency of cybercrime has risen notably over the last few months because the hackers are exploiting society’s dependence on tech and the vulnerability of certain age groups. Indeed According to the FBIcybercrime reports in the US have quadrupled since the start of the pandemic, with many scams being directly linked to the disease, preying on people’s fears and the confusing information about immunity, treatments and vaccines.  It’s essential that older adults are mindful about malicious online activities so they don’t fall victim to identity theft or financial scams that can cause tremendous hardship.

Five simple steps seniors can take to safeguard themselves

1. If you’re unsure then reach out for help!

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s imperative to reach out for help and not feel embarrassed by a perceived lack of knowledge of all things tech because it is nothing to be ashamed of and younger people struggle too. Anyone can be targeted, and early detection is the key to preventing your financial or personal information from being compromised or stolen. This cannot be emphasized enough.

2. Be mindful of emails or ads offering miracle cures or supplements

Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for Covid 19 at the moment, although the scientists have made great headway and continue to do so. The best prevention strategies are social distancing, covering your face and washing your hands. Emails and ads to the contrary are simply not true no matter how convincing they may seem. Companies whose marketing tactics are based on scare mongering are just looking to make a quick buck.

3. Create a different password for every account and device

It’s a pain, we know, but it’s really important. It’s really hard for a hacker to retrieve your sensitive information if every account is protected by a different password. Although having to remember multiple passwords can be difficult, it’s much better to jot them down in a notebook and store them somewhere safe than to use the same one for every account/device you have. Technologies like  “Two Factor Authentication” are useful because they have an additional security level and the newer smartphone/tablet models have facial recognition and finger print capabilities which help overcome the password dilemma.

You may also benefit from a password manager that can help you manage your passwords. Write down / memorize one complicated password and let the password manager do the rest!

4. Take time out before clicking on suspicious links.

Dubious links sent via email are one of the most well-known ways for scammers to retrieve your personal information. If you receive an email with an embedded link or button from a source, you don’t recognize it then look at the sender info before doing anything! As mentioned in point one, if you’re not sure then ask for help! If you’re still suspicious then delete the email so you don't run a risk of clicking on it accidentally.

5. Always log out

It’s a simple thing to do but so many of us overlook this. When you are done using an app or website, logging out is an extra step you can take to ensure online safety. Leaving your recent browsing activity open on a PC, especially one that is shared, could make you vulnerable.

Overcoming the catch-22 situation

Having to be cybercrime-savvy is a step too far for some seniors, putting them off the concept of technology altogether. Fortunately, there are solutions available that enable seniors to keep in contact with their family and friends safely and securely and without the added stress associated with password combinations or juggling between technologies, depending on what you’re trying to do. One such solution is

Developed with seniors in mind, it is an easy to use app that allows seniors to keep in contact with their family securely and safely from a single app. It is also HIPPA-compliant, so virtual appointments can be conducted safely, offering additional peace of mind that your personal data is not being compromised or sold on to third parties.

August 6, 2021


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