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Cybersecurity for Seniors

Cybersecurity for Seniors

May 23, 2020

When it comes to educating our families about cybersecurity, most people think about teaching their children. But from a financial standpoint, it's just as important to teach your parents and/or grandparents. After all, the last thing they need is having to deal with problems like malware or identity theft. 

It's the last thing you need, too. 

It's widely known that cybersecurity and financial security are closely related. That's why it's important to educate your parents and grandparents about the dangers of hacking, phishing, and identity theft. As loved ones grow older, most of us bear increasing responsibility for their health, safety, and financial well-being. If your parents and grandparents fall prey to many predators found on the internet, it could have a major impact on your own finances. 

Now, it may feel odd to have "the talk" with your parents or grandparents. But the fact is that many senior citizens aren't as well-versed in cybersecurity as they could be. Here are some even more frightening facts, as provided by the FBI itself. 

  • Senior citizens are most likely to have a "nest egg", to own their home, and/or have excellent credit - all of which make them attractive to con artists. 
  • People who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say "no" or just hang up the telephone ... or to not trust what they see online. 
  • Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don't know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don;t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs. 
  • Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists' products can do what they claim. 

Because more and more senior citizens have access to computers, mobile devices, and social media, it's easier than ever for unsavory characters to find them online. To help protect them and by extension, yourself - here are a few key topics to discuss: 

  • Why you should have anti-malware protection software installed on all computers and mobile devices
  • How to create unique passwords for all online accounts
  • How to spot common phishing scams and hoaxes, especially in emails

Fortunately, the U.S. government provides a lot of handy resources, I'd start here: 

  1. Download and read "Money Smart for Older Adults", a free guide by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It provides information on how to "prevent common frauds, scams, and other types of elder financial exploitation." Just Google the title and you'll find it. 
  2. Check out the valuable information provided by the United States Emergency Readiness Team, part of the Department of Homeland Security. It includes tips on how to protect your privacy online, as well as how to recognize and avoid email scams. You can find it here:

In order to be financially secure, we must also be "cybersecure." Take time to ensure that your loved ones - especially your parents and grandparents - are protected against internet predators. Because it's not just their finances at stake. It's yours as well. 

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do to help. 

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.