25 Tips to Protect Elders from Online Fraud: A Quick Guide

17 min read by Bogdi

published 2 ani în urmă, updated un an în urmă

Although the digital space has given us so many opportunities, it has also drastically increased the security risks that we face each day. Not only are the younger generations at risk, but the older demographics are at an increasingly high risk as scams, inappropriate marketing techniques, and fraud are at an all-time high.

While the risk for elders is prevalent online, they can use tips and tricks to ensure the safety of the personal information, finances, and even the security and protection of the computer that they use.

These are tips that are specifically designated for an older audience, but they are all actions that we should be taking on the internet. Not only can they keep us from wasting our time or money, but they can also ensure that we are navigating the space safely and securely.

Although the internet has been around for decades, there are new security risks that we have to face every day. Not only can these take our personal information and commit identity theft, but they can also use our financial information that can lead to fraud. While it may seem scary, the good news is that there are multiple ways you can protect yourself no matter what you are doing online.

When it comes to keeping your elders safe, there are four main areas that you should consider. These areas are:

For online security, some basic principles can keep your elders safe. By helping them understand safe practices online, you can make sure that they are making better decisions for their actions online. Some of the best online security tips include:

Social media is a useful tool in our society. We can keep in touch with friends and family, and even the news. Senior citizens are becoming more active on social media. This means that it is more important than ever to make sure they know the best practices to protect themselves. Here are a few topics to cover to keep elders safe on social media:

Online shopping is not just for the younger generations. Many senior citizens are choosing to start online shopping for convenience and due to reduced mobility issues. Since online shopping can be one of the biggest causes of fraud, here are some points that you should make them aware of:

Lastly, you should spend some making sure that they are set up for success! Ensuring that they have the correct programs and security measures can go a long way to protect them from fraud. Here are some of the most basic ways you can help them:

Online Security Tips

Even if your senior citizen is unfamiliar with different aspects of the internet, it is easy to understand how to ensure they can be safe at all times. One of the best ways is to help them understand the basic principles of online security and the tools that are most common among internet users. Let's talk about some of the most straightforward online security tips for elders on the internet.

Become Familiar with VPNs

One of the easiest ways to keep ensure elders are safe online is through the use of a VPN or a virtual private network. A VPN is an anonymous connection that encrypts the information between their browser to the internet. These connections even scramble their IP information, which makes it invisible to their ISP. Instead of showing where they live and where they are connected, a VPN can make it appear like they are anywhere across the world. In addition to privacy, VPNs can also allow access to content from other areas of the world. VPNs can also increase the security and safety concerns around online shopping too.

Think About Using a Password Manager

Even younger generations have trouble remembering all of the passwords that they need to use for everything online. A password manager is an excellent idea for the older demographic to help them keep track of the usernames and passwords that they have used for all of their sites. Password managers are typically installed on the computer and can keep track of all of their passwords. These password managers are also a great way to create strong, unique, and secure passwords, which makes them harder to crack into for scammers or hackers.

Create Strong and Unique Passwords

Speaking of creating unique passwords, make sure that the elders in your life are creating passwords that you can remember, but also are strong enough to be secure. Avoid something that they can relate to, such as a favorite sport, favorite food, or maybe a date that is important to them, such as the birth of a child, or perhaps even an anniversary. These passwords are easy to guess by another person.

Instead, create random passwords and have them write them down. It does not have to be complete gibberish, but something unrelated, like ^compuTER%balconY3. Some browsers, such as Safari and Google Chrome, can create stronger passwords. While this may seem significant, they can frequently be difficult to remember if you do not use the same device.

Limit Sharing of URLs and Articles Across the Internet

Although it may seem like a good idea to share different articles or links that are found online, it can lead to a severe issue with online security and fraud. By sharing links through social channels, emails, or even via other websites, it can create a possible risk for the person who is opening that link. Before they share anything online, your elders want to make sure they know what they are sharing, where it comes from, and who they are sharing it with. If they forward an email to a friend, they may find themselves responsible for the link that they open within that email. The best option is to keep sharing to an absolute minimum, even if they know the original source of the article.

Also, Make Sure Sources are Reliable

Besides keeping sharing down to a minimum, it is also essential to always make sure the articles or links that are to be shared are from reputable sources. It is easy for a website or URL to look a certain way and end up being a scam, something inappropriate, or false information. If the elders in your life are unsure about what a link is, the best option is always to avoid sharing it with any friends or family. If they think it is important enough to share, make sure the link and the article match up, or they can search the website in a private browser to check out the website for themselves before sharing it with others. As the younger person in their life, you could also help them understand secure links.

With new websites popping up every day, it can be hard to know what links to trust and what links are potential spam or unsafe links. Thankfully, many different certified websites can help senior citizens figure out if a website is secure or suspicious. It is worth the extra time to find out more details on the website before they provide any personal information for those who may be sharing information or online shopping. Elders can also use these website safety check browsers such as Sitecheck or URL Void to check the links that they may have been sent from others.

Clear Your Browser Cache and Cookies Regularly

Every time someone uses an internet browser, it stores some sort of information. The older generation in your life should be clearing the browser cache and the cookies on a regular basis. The cache and cookies on every browser are not huge aspects of security, but they are easy things that can be erased with just a few clicks. Clearing these will help to ensure the safety of what your elders are doing online. One downside to removing these is that it will erase any saved information or passwords. With the use of a password manager, that should be easy to fix.

Know What You are Downloading Via Email

This was mentioned in an earlier section, but before they download anything from an email, they should know what it is, who it is from, and what they are downloading. The best way to go about this is to only open emails from people that they know. They can save friends and family into a designated folder. You can also show them how to mark messages as spam so that they avoid clicking on any links or downloading anything from someone they do not know.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Private Browsers

Indeed, private browsers do not provide total privacy while browsing online, but they can help to reduce the number of cookies that are downloaded from the internet. You can visit the same websites that are available on a regular browser, but you don't have to worry about any of your cache getting saved. For senior citizens who are worried about their privacy, this is an easy solution. However, they will have to remember their username and passwords on the websites they want to use. Or, like I suggested above, have them write down usernames and passwords.

Social Media Security Tips

While social media is the most popular among the younger generations, the older generations are also using them more and more. Not only are they becoming content creators themselves, but it is a quick and easy way for them to keep with friends and family no matter where they live. With the rise of social media users being older than sixty-five, here are some tips to help keep them safe while using social platforms.

Know What You are Clicking On

One of the most significant negatives of social media is that anyone can create anything. Social media allows users to create and share videos, text, and images. Not everything on social media deserves to be shared, and you should make sure that the elders in your life are aware of what to look for before they share anything. You can also help them understand how to ensure they are following and interacting with safe and secure accounts.

Do Not Provide Personal Information to Others

There are a lot of social media accounts that are solely created to scam other users. Make sure that you are letting the senior citizens in your life know that there should never be an account on social media that asks them for their personal information. They also should avoid interacting with accounts that are unfamiliar with them. Social media platforms will ask for a limited amount of personal information to get started, but the information will never put their identity or financial accounts at risk.

Remind Elders to Report Spam Accounts

Another way to help your elders stay safe is to teach them how to report accounts that are either asking for personal information from them or sharing spam. Not only can doing this help them identify what to look for if a new account reaches out to them, but it can also help other elders as well. Reporting accounts on social platforms will often put them under review for the platform. If the account proves to be spam, they will be removed for violating community guidelines.

There are Multiple Scams They Can Fall Victim Too

When it comes to elder fraud, there are so many different scams that they are faced with on a daily basis. Help them understand the different types of scams they may run into. These can be scams from companies trying to sell them something, people pretending to be interested in them, or even scammers trying to front as long lost family members who need help being bailed out of jail or getting out of trouble.

Online Shopping Security Tips

While brick-and-mortar stores used to rule the world, the eCommerce space has taken over. More and more consumers are choosing to shop online because of the convenience of shopping from home. Online shopping is perfect for seniors who may have limited mobility or do not have access to a lot of stores. Even though the eCommerce space is excellent, it does also presents new and even more serious online fraud and security risks.

As with most things on the internet, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. If the senior citizens in your life are avid online shoppers, you need to make sure that they are aware of what they are clicking on. Help them understand what kind of links they should be using for their online shopping. You can also review the link for them to make sure that it is not a scam and make sure they actually need the item they want to buy. It also may be a great idea to help them create a budget or a shopping list, so they are not buying random things all of the time.

Always Use Credit Cards or Secure Payment Portals

Credit cards and secure payment portals are the best way to be safe to shop online. Although credit cards are scary for most people, they are one of the best ways to avoid hackers or scammers getting into your bank account. Most senior citizens avoid using a credit card so that they stay on budget. If your elders are online shopping, explain to them how a credit card can protect their bank account from being broken into. They can also use secure payments such as PayPal at individual retailers online. There are also prepaid credit cards that they can use to shop safely online by loading a certain amount of money on the card.

Regularly Check Your Credit Card Transactions to Monitor Charges

If they choose to use their debit card for online purchases, make sure they understand the importance of regularly checking their accounts to make sure that the transactions reflected in their account are the transactions they made. A great tip is to keep a purchase journal, so they know when they spent money using a credit or debit card. They can then compare the transactions to identify any fraudulent charges or actual charges that may not be the correct amount.

How to Identify Potential Scams

One of the best things you can do as a member of the younger generation is to help the older generations figure out how to identify spams. There are a lot of great resources online that show what a typical spam email, comment, or link looks like. Using these resources, you can help the senior citizens in your life learn how to know if a link is safe or if it is potential spam. Many of the common signs such as the account that is sharing content, the URL being shared, and comments from other users are all easy signs to know if a link or store is safe.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication for Purchases

Most credit cards or secure payments allow the user to set up a multi-factor authentication system prior to using a card or service. With this authentication, the credit provider will typically email or text the owner of the card or account when a purchase is being made. If the person who owns the card is making the purchase, they can verify that the potential purchase is safe to process. If not, they can mark a fraud signal, which will remove access to the payment selection.

Quick Tips and Tricks to Maximize Safety Online for Elders

There is more to protecting elders against online fraud than just knowing how to use browsers and social media tips. The internet connection and even the software have a significant impact on how safe and protected the elders in your life actually are.

Make Sure Their Computer and Software are Up to Date

Although computers are not new, they are continually being updated with new technology. If your elders are active on any sort of computer device, you should make sure that they are keeping them up to date. Not only can this help update software that comes on the computer, but if they have any additional installed software such as a password manager or antivirus, these also need to be updated in order to stay effective.

Don’t Be Afraid to Offer Help

Most of the time, if you offer to help the older generations in your family with computer or technological situations, they are going to be happy to have the help. Thanks to new technology, you can even take control of their computer wherever you are. Next time you visit them, ask if they have anything they need help with on their computer or check to ensure all of their accounts and software are up to date.

Ensure That They are Using Secure Internet Connections

One of the most important things to remember is that not all internet connections are secure. If the elders in your life are using their computer outside of their home, then they could be putting themselves at risk on networks and connections that are not secure. Help them understand what a secure internet connection is and why they need to use them. It also may be worth ensuring that the connection they are using at home is secure. If they are not using these connections, maybe help them find software or programs that can provide their information is protected on public networks.

Use a Quality Firewall and Antivirus Program

A firewall and an antivirus program are essential to help protect elders from potential online fraud. These are programs that are installed on a computer and essentially preserve the information stored on a computer from scammers and hackers. Any attacks on the computer can be caught before they are able to steal any information. These programs need to be activated and updated regularly in order to be as effective as possible.

Teach Them the Basics of Using Their Computer

Even though the older generations have used computers before, they may be unfamiliar with how to use specific actions that the younger crowd may think is easy. Teach them how to do necessary activities such as sending emails, playing games, searching for information, or whatever they may do on a regular basis. If they buy a new computer or tablet, help them set up all of the security measures and show them how to use different aspects of their device.

Make Sure Security Settings are Established on Devices

One of the most basic ways to keep your computer safe from unauthorized users or hackers is to make sure that security settings are activated on the device you are using. Help your elders create passwords for their computer as the first line of defense against online fraud or hackers. If they are using any programs to help with security, they should also be activated for the browser they are using and up to date.

Make Sure They are Not Making Quick Decisions

A quick tip to keep the elders in your life safe while online is to make sure they are not making quick decisions. This could come down to decisions when purchasing items, sharing links or emails, or even interacting with others online. Help them create a plan that allows them to have a process they go through before they make any decisions. A good action plan should include them checking who the email or link is from, validating the URL that is to be shared, and thinking about if the purchase or the link is safe and necessary for them.

Final Thoughts

With senior citizen computer usage on the rise, it is more important than ever that they are aware of the risks of identity theft and online fraud that are on the internet. Teaching them the basics of using the internet makes it easy to help them feel protected and in control while using the internet.

You should help them understand the basics of internet usage, such as checking the security of links, which they should and should not interact with, and how to keep their browser free from tracking information or too much personal information. Even creating unique passwords can have a significant impact on how secure their data is while doing everyday tasks online.

More and more of the older generation are choosing to shop online and use social media. These are both areas where a lot of scams can happen. Helping them know the risks that come with both shopping and connect with others is a huge step to help them make better decisions online.

Lastly, if they are going to be using the internet, they should be aware of the basic principles of internet security. This includes using the right security programs, protecting their computers and even helping them understand how to do necessary actions that they do on a daily basis. Helping them become more comfortable with what they do online is a great way to make sure they are safe.

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