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May 13, 2022

Protecting Seniors from Cybercrime

Protecting Seniors from Cybercrime

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Report, there were 2.76 million complaints of internet scams in 2021. This report shows that senior citizens are the most targeted age group by cybercrimes. Follow the tips below to keep yourself and your loved ones safe online.

Types of Cyber Scams

The types of scams plaguing the internet are endless. They cover everything from relationship scams, charity scams, non-existent credit card offers, email phishing, online vacation scams, lottery and winning scams, etc. Below are some common types of online scams:

Social engineering

Social engineering is when someone uses a fake reason to persuade the victim to share personal information or send money. There are several ways this can be done. For example, they may pretend to be a family member in need of help or start a fake romance with the victim to get money from them.


Phishing is a scam usually achieved through email, and it's when predators pretend to be a legitimate source or company and encourage users to click a bad link. These links are known as malware, and they infect your system and steal your information.


Vishing is similar to phishing, but it is over the phone. For example, someone may call claiming to be with an IT company asking for access to your computer to fix a problem or IRS needing your social security number. Be cautious in these situations and realize the IRS almost always contacts individuals by mail.

Social media scams

Social media scams are rampant across the internet. Use the account privacy settings and be wary of the quizzes and surveys on your news feeds. They collect and share your information with anyone willing to pay for it.

The internet is not a safe place to parade your life or your personal information, yet so many of us fall victim to the false security and company it can seem to provide. Especially our senior citizens.

Why Are Senior Citizens More Vulnerable to Cybercrimes?

Seniors are more likely to fall victim to cybercrimes because they tend to use the internet often but less aware of online scams, are least likely to report a crime, and are more trusting of strangers.

In addition, many seniors fall victim to scams because of feelings of obligation or loneliness. They send money thinking they are helping a loved one or an online romantic relationship, but in reality, it’s a scam.

Protecting Seniors from Online Scams

  1. Talk with seniors about common scams.
  2. Go over password and account security. Follow the universal rule of having at least one uppercase letter, lowercase letter, number, and symbol in your passwords. And use a 2-step verification whenever possible.
  3. Inventory all the devices your senior loved one owns and ensure the software is up to date.
  4. Consider using a fee-based monitoring service to protect against internet scams, fraud, and identity theft.

Ways Elderly Can Do to Respond to Scams

  • Phone calls – Hang up right away.
  • Emails – Delete the emails, don’t click on any links, and never respond to them.
  • Text – Block the number.
  • Social media – Report and block the user.

Other Tips for Protecting Seniors from Cybercrimes

  • Before making any online purchases, verify the site is secure. Look for the lock on the left of the web address bar. You can also check reviews online and consult a family member or your caregiver for their opinion.
  • Don't trust strangers online. If they never want to meet in person, it's probably a scam. If you want to continue a pen-pal relationship, never involve finances in the conversation.
  • People can find information about you online and try to use it to gain your trust. They may know your full name, where you live, your kids, or your friends. But that doesn't mean they are trustworthy. If you doubt that someone is being honest, ask a trusted family member or your caregiver.
  • Be very cautious when giving out personal information online. When you do, make sure it is a trustworthy, secure website.
  • Don’t open emails from strangers, especially if they have attachments.
  • Confirm charities are legit before donating to them.
  • Do not click on any pop-up advertising or pop-up deals.
  • If contacted about winning something you haven't participated in, it's a scam.
  • If your relatives contact you about being in trouble, call or visit your family to confirm this is legit.
  • Use 2-step verification on any account that offers it. The importance of proper internet security was displayed in May of 2021 when the Colonial pipeline was hacked because one person failed to use 2-step verification on their account.
  • Report suspicious cases to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Cybercrime Impact on Victims

Cybercrimes leave behind a massive amount of damage. The Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Report showed that of the cybercrimes reported where age was identified, seniors lost $1.68 billion in 2021. These numbers only reflect the cyber crimes reported. Most cases concerning seniors are rarely reported, making the recorded numbers lower than they should be.

Seniors involved with cybercrime have to deal with the financial burden of losing significant amounts of money and the psychological scars created from being scammed.

Victims can suffer from various psychological impacts due to experiencing a cyberattack, such as emotional trauma (post-traumatic stress disorder), guilt, shame, feelings of helplessness, eating disorders, or sleep disorders (insomnia).

Protecting seniors from scams is an essential role. Our Caregivers at Home Instead are passionate about enhancing the lives of aging adults and their families. We provide seniors in Acadiana and surrounding areas with personalized, in-home care where they can age safely in a space they love. Contact us today for a no-obligation Care Consultation!


Image source: Canva

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