Safeguarding Older People – How to protect the elderly from online scams.


How to protect older people from being scammed

To mark this year’s Safeguarding Adults Week, an annual event where organisations come together to raise awareness of adult safeguarding issues, we are focusing on how we can protect the elderly members of our community from being scammed online.

According to a report by the charity Age UK, it’s a sad fact that just under 5 million over 65s have been targeted by scammers in one way or another. The elderly and vulnerable are the most likely groups to be the victims of scammers due to loneliness and social isolation. They are more likely to give scammers their time and attention and be more trusting than younger people, making them more vulnerable.

Older adults targeted by online scammers often feel embarrassed or ashamed when they fall victim to one of the many scams circulating in our communities.

As a result, very few report it as a crime. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of scams out there, and it can be challenging for the more vulnerable members of our communities to be aware of what they should look out for.

If you have an elderly friend or relative, you can do things to help them be more aware and less susceptible to online scams. In this blog, we will share tips and advice for staying safe to avoid being scammed online.

Different types of scams

Scammers are becoming increasingly clever and ever more sophisticated. Even a regular tech-savvy internet user can risk falling for a scam. The key to spotting them is knowing what to look out for. Here are some of the most common types of scams:

  • Telephone scams- A report from the Citizens Advice Bureau states that over a third of scams were conducted by phone.
  • Websites 24% of the scams were through visits to a website, according to the same report.
  • 16% were postal scams.
  • One in ten scams come through emails – such as phishing scams posing as your bank or Paypal account.

If you are wondering how you can protect your elderly loved ones from falling victims to these types of scams, here are our top tips:

Keep your details private

No matter who your elderly friend or relative is communicating with, they should never give out their phone number, address, bank details, or other personal information to anyone who emails, phones, or knocks on their door. If they are genuine, they won’t mind or pressure you to give out this information.

Know how to spot a scam email

Scam emails are increasingly looking more official and professional. However, there are a few telling signs they are not genuine:

  • Look for any spelling and grammar mistakes or non-standard fonts.
  • Reputable companies will never ask for your personal information, such as your username, password, or bank details.
  • Check / Verify their address. If it does not relate to the organisation in any way, it’s most likely spam.
  • The use of threatening language such as act now or your account will close.

Keep your computer and mobile devices up to date

Having the latest security software and web browser is one of the best defences against viruses, malware and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates to make sure you receive the newest updates as soon as they become available.

Set Strong Passwords

Use a mixture of special characters, upper and lowercase letters and numbers to make your passwords hard for scammers to crack. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.

Shop safely

When using online stores, make sure they have secure technology. For example, when you are at the checkout, verify that the web address begins with HTTPS. You should also see a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page to signify its security.

Sign up to Action Fraud

Encourage your elderly loved one to sign up to action fraud. They will then receive by email relevant, up to date and verified information about scams to watch out for so they can be more aware of fraudulent activity in your area.

By sharing these tips with your elderly and vulnerable relatives and helping them understand when something might not be genuine, you can help them keep themselves safe online.