A surprising number of seniors are embracing digital technology, including computers, tablets and smartphones. Many use social media and email to stay in touch with friends, children and grandchildren. All of which is good. What is bad is the fact that seniors are being heavily targeted by scammers and fraudsters and are at risk of becoming victims of scams.
These scams include using all sources of communication, including the telephone, and through phishing and texting.
How can we help the seniors in our lives from becoming a victim? Educate them just like you educate yourself and your children about safe online behavior, using appropriate tools, such as firewalls and virus protection, and being suspicious of emails and texts from people they don’t know.
Many seniors have been scammed through telephone calls. Suggest to them that they should register their number with the state and federal “Do not Call” list. It is easy to do. Make sure they never give their personal information, and most importantly, their Social Security number or financial information, to anyone over the phone or through an email or text. Tell them not to agree to solicitations for charity or anything else over the telephone or through email or text.
Educate them about phishing and how it works. Encourage them not to fall for phishing emails and texts that ask them to click on a link, and that they should not provide their user name or password to anyone. Encourage them to delete all emails and texts that are from unfamiliar sources.
Grandchildren—help your grandparents with setting up passwords and implementing basic security measures on their phones, tablets and computers. Help them understand what their privacy settings are and how to implement privacy settings that they are comfortable with on their phones and social media accounts. For that matter, help your parents too!
We can all become the victim of a scam. But in general, seniors have less experience with digital media as the younger generations, as they did not grow up with it. Empower the seniors in your life with knowledge and the tools to embrace digital technology in a safe way and enjoy the time you spend with them bringing them into your digital world.