Google warns of scams targeting elderly users, how to keep your loved ones safe online

While older people are often thought of as ‘technophobes’, 60+ year-olds are slowly but surely embracing technology into their lives.

But Google has issued a warning about online scams that specifically target elderly users.

Speaking to Mirror Online, Elijah Lawal, online safety communications manager at Google, explained: “No matter how long you’ve been using the internet, the online world continues to present increasingly sophisticated security threats, from manipulative scammers to advanced password hackers.

“It’s certainly a concern for older internet users — 75% of Brits over 60 report having worried about online safety in the past year.”

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If you’re buying an elderly loved one a new device this year, this is certainly a concern to take into consideration, but thankfully there are several things you can do to make sure the user is protected online.

Here are Google’s top tips to help seniors stay safe online this Christmas.

1. Keep strong, unique passwords

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While it may be tempting to user a memorable place or name as your password, this can make it very easy for scammers to guess your password.

Mr Lawal explained: “Although remembering multiple passwords can be a pain, it’s vital to have a different one for each of your online accounts. Otherwise, one compromised account could open the door to all of your personal details.

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“You can avoid the inconvenience of remembering multiple passwords with tools such as Google Password Manager and Safari’s suggested password feature, which can generate a unique combination for each new account and fill it in for you automatically next time you log in.”

2. Be careful who you trust

Previous research has shown that although younger people lose money to fraud more often than older people, older victims tend to lose more when it happens.

Mr Lawal advised: “Take extra care when visiting websites, and don’t click on links in emails from unfamiliar senders. These could lead you to a malicious website that installs malware on your device, or attempts to steal your information in other ways.

“Some attackers could pose as people you know, so double-check emails with a link — even those which appear to be from familiar contacts.”

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3. Take care when sharing

Posting photos online is a great way to share with your loved ones, but make sure you’re wary about what you share.

Mr Lawal said: “Even by posting pictures of your house on social media platforms — an action that could make it easier to associate your home with your identity — you could help hackers guess your address, which, alongside other information like your date of birth, could make it easier to access your bank account.

“Think twice before you reveal any personal information (especially passwords or financial details) to another person, or a website — even for routine transactions like online banking. When entering details into a website, ensure it is secure and encrypted.

“For example, confirm the address is spelled correctly, and that it starts with “https”, not just “http”. Look out for a lock symbol in the address bar, which confirms your connection to the website is secure.

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“Remember that legitimate companies will never ask you to share your passwords or social security numbers over phone, email, text or social media — so if they do, it’s probably not really them.”

4. Stay vigilant

Finally, Mr Lawal urges users to stay vigilant when using their device.

He added: “Although 73 per cent of seniors feel confident exploring the web, most list downloading viruses, fake news and scams as key concerns.

“But keep your wits about you when creating and managing passwords, sharing information or following links, and you will make it much harder for any attacker to access your personal information.”

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