8 Online Safety & Technology Tips for Your Senior
The benefits of technology for seniors and caregivers include opportunities for education, access to care, caregiver support, and safety.
However, with that comes risk and difficulty with monitoring the online activity of a senior loved one who may be more vulnerable to the dangers of the internet.
Unfortunately, senior citizens are at a higher risk of being subjected to online and phone scams which increases the need for precautions when it comes to online safety.
Scammers frequently target seniors and perceive seniors as vulnerable targets. The first way to protect your loved one is to be aware of some of the most common scams.
Common scams may include:
Online romance scams
Cybercriminals sending “phishing” emails
Online shopping scams
Phone scammers calling about an imprisoned family member
Imposter or identity theft scams
Scammers posing as employees of government agencies (police, FBI, or IRS)
In addition to an increased likelihood of falling victim to scams, older adults are also more likely to be scammed out of more money.
In this article, we’ll discuss steps that you can take to help your loved one stay safe online while staying engaged with family and friends.
How To Keep Your Senior Safe On the Internet
The internet is vast and has many potential pitfalls. Luckily, there are ways to help maintain your loved one’s independence and stay safe.
Below are a few internet safety tips to help increase your senior’s online security.
1. Keep track of passwords
With accounts on several different websites, keeping track of passwords is difficult for all of us. However, it’s important to choose a trusted individual, such as a friend or family member, that can have access in an emergency. This emergency might be needing to access bank account information, utility accounts, or even social media accounts.
A password manager is a great option for your loved one to store passwords, as well as keep them accessible for caregivers.
Help your loved one to come up with good, secure passwords. Strong passwords that are regularly updated can go a long way in keeping your loved one’s online accounts safe and secure.
2. Monitor bank accounts
One of the biggest signs that someone has been scammed is unusual activity on a bank account. With permission from your loved one, use their bank’s app to monitor their account for suspicious activity. Online banking is hugely beneficial to caregivers in ensuring their loved one’s accounts are secure.
Many banks allow you to set up text message notifications of any unusual activity on the corresponding account.
If your loved one is living with memory loss or another cognitive impairment, consider a credit card designed to keep vulnerable individuals safe.
Visa’s True Link allows a caregiver to set spending limits and monitor their loved one’s spending, while still giving their seniors the independence to spend how they wish.
3. Monitor online interactions
If your loved one uses social media sites, such as Facebook, they are more likely to interact with individuals trying to take advantage of them. They may do this through building a friendship or a romance scam.
You can monitor your senior’s account through your own profile by scanning friends’ lists and unusual interactions online.
At the same time, ensure that your senior loved one is not posting personal information to their profile. This includes the obvious such as phone numbers, addresses, credit card numbers, and social security numbers, but also more subtle information that could be used as security questions.
4. Utilize a call blocker
Scam calls are frustrating, but they can also be dangerous.
While there is no way to stop scam calls 100% of the time, using a call-blocking device can help limit the number of illegitimate calls your loved one receives. You can find a call-blocking device on Amazon or sometimes through your loved one’s phone provider.
Update privacy settings
Ensure that all of your loved one’s tech devices have privacy settings set to the highest standard.
In addition to strong passwords, this may also include two-factor authentication which will require a second device or account to log into the site.
Use a security software
Good security software that is kept up-to-date will help avoid unwanted viruses on your loved one’s device. Security software often works by decreasing a hacker's access to your loved one’s device, decreasing the number of pop-ups, and blocking potentially bad websites.
Do some research to find the best antivirus software for your senior’s device. One of the most common AntiVirus protection software is offered by Norton.
7. Regularly review online safety resources for seniors
Increase your and your loved one's awareness of cybersecurity crimes by reviewing these tips, along with information from AARP.
8. Report scams
If your loved one falls victim to a scam whether on the phone or over the internet, be sure to report the event to help prevent future scammers. Elder fraud can be reported to the government agency, Federal Trade Commission Hotline.
While the internet is a magnificent resource, it’s important to follow a step-by-step procedure in ensuring the older adult in your life stays safe.