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Keep your elderly relatives tech safe


The world of technology is constantly changing, and for many people, it's hard to keep up. But for an elderly person who grew up without computers or cell phones, adapting to the latest devices can seem like a daunting task. As people age, they may experience cognitive decline which can make it harder for them to spot scams and other dangers online. In fact, according to a study by the Center for Safe Internet Use (CSIU), adults aged 65 or older were two times more likely than adults under 65 years old to fall victim to cybercrime.

The risks of scams are increasing

Scams are on the rise, and their scammers are becoming more sophisticated. While it's true that you can help your elderly relative understand what a scam is and how to avoid it, that doesn't mean you shouldn't also be aware of the ways scams happen in order to help them stay safe.

So what kinds of scams are out there? What should you look for if you're worried about an elderly person being scammed? And what do we recommend doing if someone has been scammed?

Elderly are more likely to fall for scams

Elderly people are more likely to be victims. They may be more trusting, not understand how technology works, not know when something is real or fake, or not know how to protect themselves.

  • Seniors are often unaware that they’re being scammed.

  • If a scammer calls you out of the blue and asks for personal information or money, hang up. Don’t give them any details about who you are or where you live.

Tips to help relatives avoid falling victim

Here are some tips to help you ensure your loved ones stay safe on the internet:

  • Make sure they understand what they are doing. Some older adults may be confused by something they see on the internet, and this confusion can lead them into making bad decisions that put them at risk of being scammed. Explain to them how websites work, what personal information is requested, and why it is important not to give out their data unnecessarily or without first asking questions.

  • Make sure they understand the risks of giving out personal information. Many elderly individuals have had difficulty adapting their behavior in light of new technology because of factors such as loneliness or depression which makes them more vulnerable than younger generations when it comes to online scams and other forms of cyber-crime.

  • Help your relatives understand that it is okay for them not to join certain networks if they don't feel comfortable with sharing certain types of information with strangers online; however, if there is an emergency situation where someone needs help immediately then it might be necessary for them not only access these services but also provide certain details about themselves so that others can assist straight away.

  • Make sure they understand that it's okay ask questions. If something seems suspicious or doesn’t make sense then let us know right away so we can investigate further before any damage occurs.

Children can find common ground with grandparents

The next time your younger family visits grandparents, bring along a gaming console. You can play cards or board games together and teach them how to play new ones that they haven't tried before. If they don't have a console of their own, you could even buy one with the intent of leaving it behind when you leave so that they have something fun to do in the future. You could also teach them about other popular internet sites like Facebook or Instagram if they're not familiar with them yet.

They may find social media more entertaining than Facebook because it's full of video clips from TV shows and movies as well as funny memes and gifs. The two of you can watch videos together on YouTube or Vimeo while eating snacks in front of the computer screen—which isn't too different from watching TV except for its portability.

If your grandparents live far away from where you live but still want to keep up with what's going on in your life every day (or just every once in awhile), video chatting apps like Facebook Messenger or Google Duo are a great way to stay connected and see each other face-to-face even though distances separate their bodies."

Encourage your relatives to use technology safely

  • Make sure they know how to use technology

  • Set up a family account to keep track of your loved ones' accounts and passwords

  • Show them how to use the internet, social media, email and video calling services like Skype or FaceTime

Steps you can take

There are steps you can take to make sure elderly relatives don't fall prey to scammers.

  • Make them aware of the risks. The best way to avoid scams is by being aware of them in the first place. Make sure your loved ones know what kinds of scams exist, so they can spot and avoid any that might come their way.

  • Add tools like Teamviewer to their computers so you can remotely connect if needed, in order to see what they are seeing on their screen.

  • Consider (with their permission) having them NOT know their password to key sites like online banking, etc. This will reduce the possibility if a scammer does convince them to allow "tech support" to fix a fake issue, they won't be able to log into the banking web site as easily.

  • Ask their financial institutions if they can limit withdrawals of a certain amount to reduce the possibility of exposure to a scam.

  • Ensure they've got a phone with a good battery or good internet connection. Some elderly people rely on landlines for their phones, but these lines have been declining in recent years due to increased mobile phone use among younger generations—so it is more likely that your relative will be using a cell phone (if not an entirely wireless home solution). Note: some elderly turn the volume down on their ringer only to forget to turn it back on, missing calls from nervous family members.

  • Make sure their device has enough power for long conversations before handing over control of it. Also, check whether there are any dead zones around where you live or if there are any issues with connectivity at home; if there are problems like this affecting your relative's ability to connect online, try speaking directly into their handset from outside instead of through its speakerphone function until they can get things working properly again.


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