It is a sad fact but the elderly of our society are five times more likely to fall victim to online scammers and hackers than any other group. This is partially due to the internet, social media and other technologies being very new to them. We sometimes forget that we have grown up with these advances but to the elderly it is alien.
This is why it is important to ensure your loved ones do not fall for scams or attacks whilst online. Here are our top tips for keeping them safe online.
Keep Your Details Private
It is important to explain that no matter who they are speaking to, they must never give out personal information such as their phone number, address or bank details without confirming by phone first. Hackers are experts at impersonating banks, companies and even people they know to get what they want. In 2022 there were a huge number of scams where an elderly person received an email asking for money to be sent to a bank account under the guise of being a younger relative. Always double-check!
Learn How to Spot a Scam Email
Email fraud is one of the most common scams targeting the elderly. Fortunately, most are easy to spot. It is vital that your loved one knows how to spot the fake from the real. The best way of checking is to look at the email address at the top of the message. Often they will have a “friendly name” which can say anything but, it is the actual email address that is important. Check for spelling mistakes or errors. For example, an email from HSBC should have an email address of @hsbc.co.uk. We have seen lots of scammers use a variation of this such as @HSDC or HSCC. To the casual glance, you wouldn’t notice and that is what the scammer is banking on.
It is also vital that they understand any bank, building society or financial institution will never ask for details in an email. This is how they safeguard their customers so ensure your loved one never replies to such emails.
Finally, never open an attachment from an email address you do not recognise. These attachments are often viruses that only need to be opened to infect your laptop or PC. Once they are in, they can access a range of your applications, services and detail. If in doubt, delete.
Whilst the constant updates from Microsoft or other applications is annoying it is a vital defence in keeping your loved ones safe. Most of these updates contain the latest levels of protection, so it is important that you accept them as soon as you are prompted.
Keep Passwords Strong
This is another vital tip. It is important to have strong passwords wherever a password is required. A strong password is over 10 characters with a mixture of letters, numbers and punctuation. It is also advised to add at least one capital letter. This makes it far harder for hackers to crack.
Sign Up to Action Fraud
We strongly recommend that you encourage your loved one to sign up for the action fraud service. They will then receive emails detailing relevant, up-to-date and verified information about scams to watch out for so they can be more aware of fraudulent activity in their area. Sign up here (https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/sign-up-for-action-fraud-alert?fbclid=IwAR2fltZzFb5s8xesND_UQyrTVeZ_yZY_nhaMydbDYd6kHavhBovzimfU1ls)
If you or your loved one thinks they may have fallen victim to a scam, it is important to first report it to your bank or building society and then change all your passwords. This is the safest way to lock the scammers out of the accounts.
Keeping our elderly loved ones safe online is crucial. For more tips and guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at We Care Together Southampton. For up-to-date information about scams, consider signing up for Action Fraud. Remember, staying informed is the best defense against online scams.