By Diana Henderson
Today’s senior citizens didn’t grow up with the internet, but many of them are making it an important part of their daily lives. According to the Pew Research Center, over half of all Americans over 65 use the internet regularly, and a third of them use social media. These users have come late to the party, and are rarely as savvy about internet theft as those who grew up using the technology. Educating seniors about the dangers lurking on the internet will go a long way toward saving their financial safety.
Our oldest generation of Americans grew up with the attitude that authority figures are correct and should rarely be questioned. That mindset permeates many of them still today. When one of these seniors sees a popup that claims to have the fix for their computer problems, or an email that requests they click on a link, they often blindly follow where the link leads. Even with the best antivirus and anti malware software installed, malicious programs can get in, and some forgetful seniors don’t bother to update their protection on a regular basis. This makes their computers particularly vulnerable to vicious viruses, as GetCyberSafe.gc.ca warns.
Seniors may not be aware of the extent of knowledge that’s on the internet, and the simple way in which details can interconnect to create a profile of someone. Older people on social media sites may think nothing of giving out their home address or the name of the bank they use, but thieves use this information to perfect phishing mail, which is sent to the seniors. This mail can look exactly like an official bank communication or electric company request, and always contains a link. This link leads to a mockup of the official site which looks the same, but is designed solely to gather social security numbers, passwords, and other personal information. According to the National Council on Aging, phishing is among the top 10 scams directed at seniors, making this a crucial subject to teach.
Older people are looking for love just like everyone else, and so many of them are doing it online through various dating sites. While there are dedicated dating sites just for seniors, there are no guarantees that the people on these sites are honest, or even that other people on the site are actually seniors. Rules that applied 50 years ago are no longer valid, and seniors starting out in the online dating world need to learn a whole new set of skills. They should practice becoming anonymous for first encounters and use photos that have no identifying characteristics and no life details in their description. The first two or three meetings should always be in a public place. The rules for internet dating are the same, whether you’re 23 years old or 68, but there are rules that seniors who are new to the concept need to learn.
About the Author
Diana Henderson is the senior IT techie at her small business and is working on introducing a fresh new BYOD program soon.