Keeping the Elderly Safe Online

In this day and age technology has become an integral part of nearly everyone’s lives. With that comes dangers, these can appear in emails, webpages, text messages and so on. Children can definitely become victim to such online, however it’s not just the younger generation that are vulnerable.

Age UK Reports that 43% of people aged 65 and over believe they have been targeted by scammers. A lot of elderly that have been scammed feel too ashamed to report the crime, and the elderly that live alone are much more susceptible to becoming a victim. This is where we can help, by educating and teaching the elderly what to look out for and how to spot the telltale signs of a scam. This will in turn help them feel more comfortable online and potentially save them from being victimised.

How can we help
Email safety

Most emails we get are harmless and genuine, but this is not always the case. Scammers will frequently send fake emails and the most common ones tend to be: directing you to a fake website, pretending to be someone you know or including a link, that once clicked, could put a virus or malicious software on your device.

We may know how to spot a dodgy email,  however the elderly could potentially be fooled into thinking these are real emails. Below are a few guidelines that can teach our elderly communities, friends and family members what to look out for.

  • Check the sender, the sender address will most likely be nothing to do with the actual email if it’s a scam
  • Look out for spelling mistakes and being addressed as ‘customer’
  • If a ‘person you know’ appears to have sent you a suspicious link, always contact them directly to ask if they have sent you an email
  • If you think a company has sent you an important email,  its always best to check the website manually or give the company a ring to check, especially if it’s to do with banking.
 Phone calls and Texts

There has been a huge increase in the number of scam calls and because of this more people are losing money every day. The scam calls range from somebody claiming they are from your bank, a computer company or even the police!

Scam text messages are also a common occurrence and typically they will inform you that you’ve won a competition, you owe money or you have been subscribed to a service.

People under the age of 60 tend to know that these are a hoax, however for our elderly generation who are more trusting, they may believe that these calls or texts are genuine.

A few points below will help prevent these situations from turning into something much worse.

  • Computer companies and banks would never call you to verify personal information, if you do receive a call, hang up and contact the number on the official website to check everything is okay.
  • Most smartphones will let you download a true caller app, or even have it built in the phone itself, which lets you know if it is a scammer or a telesales agent calling you.
  • If you receive a text coming in from a 5-digit number they usually charge you, the right action is to text STOP to that number, however with some mobile providers they now give you the option to have a spend cap which can be put on your phone account to stop these charges from adding up or charging you at all.
Shopping and banking safely online

Fake websites are popping up everywhere, especially over the Christmas period. These cloned websites can look incredibly real, making a like for like copy of a genuine website and they tend to pop up after clicking on a link in an email or an advert.

Online shopping is a new concept for a lot of elderly, which makes them even more vulnerable when it comes to situations like this.  Below are a few tips to teach the elderly what to look out for when it comes to fake websites.

  • Always look for a lock symbol in the top left corner next to the URL, this means the connection is secure
  • If you’re still suspicious about the website and think the deal seems too good to be true then it’s best to go google the website directly
  • Be wary of popups and links, the website will have the deal on their site if it’s real, so it’s best to go directly to the website instead of using the link or advert
  • Use banking apps that are officially released by the bank itself using the app store, this is a safer way to bank on your phone as they will ask you for security info and on some modern phones will ask for a fingerprint

It can be scary online, we all know that, but we try to help prevent the hundreds of thousands that are fraudulently taken from the elderly every year. Following the above guidelines could save a person from falling for one of the many scams that are used to target the elderly.

O2 and NSPCC want to help your family enjoy the best of the digital world safely and confidently. To help, we’ve put lots of useful information on our website. Or if you would prefer to speak to someone, call our online safety advice helpline, visit o2.co.uk/nspcc or call 0808 800 5002. Lines are open from 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 6pm on weekends and will be free of charge.

The NSPCC helpline is open 24 hours a day, ready to give support and advice to any adult who’s worried about a child. Call 0800 800 5000, visit nspcc.org.uk/help, email help@nspcc.org.uk