Older folks may be more susceptible to cybercriminals.
Cybercriminals can target anyone online
Cybercriminals can target anyone online. Younger Americans may be more tech-savvy, and have high levels of digital literacy. However, older individuals may not be as tech-savvy, and therefore may be more susceptible to cyber crime. New technologies can be more difficult for older folks to adapt to.
We can probably all relate. I’ve had my 12 year old help me with a variety of tech – from setting up Netflix on our new tv, to video editing, to help changing the photo that appears when I call someone. I can see a clear digital divide between us – he is very clearly a digital native, while I can remember not wanted to exchange my flip phone for the first iPhone when it came out because who needs email on their phone!?
Those over 60 may be more at risk
Older folks have experienced many changes in how technology shows up in their lives including going online for just about everything, including socializing and buying groceries. Despite best efforts, those over 60 almost certainly have lower levels of digital literacy than the preteens in our lives.
If you have loved ones who are over 60, they may be more at risk of cyber crime. In 2022, those over 60 lost $3.1 billion to cybercriminals, according to Incogni. 60% of these losses resulted from weaker digital literacy or cybersecurity knowledge.
My son had to do a research paper recently. Part of what they learned about when conducting research was identifying reliable sources of information on the internet. Just because it’s online doesn’t make it true. This was one of the biggest areas of learning for the students, and is an example of how digital natives are learning differently than those of us born back when we had to go to a library to check out a physical book for our research papers.
Protect yourself and those you love from cybercrime
Those over 60 can be subjects of cyber crime when it comes to romance; investments; or gift card schemes. But regardless of age, cyber crime can impact anyone using the internet. Here are some tips that might help to protect your data from cyber criminals. Share these with those over 60 in your life, and help them stay safe.
- Freeze your credit. One way to prevent criminals from opening up lines of credit in your name is to freeze your credit. This can be a pain if you are actively trying to build your credit or applying for a line of credit including a mortgage or car loan. But for the older folks in our lives who aren’t planning to open a new credit line, freezing their credit may provide some protection. The three credit reporting bureaus Experian, TransUnion and Equifax can all help with this.
- Check to see if anyone is using your social security number. If your social security number has been affected by a data breach, someone else might be using your social security number. Go to ssa.gov/myaccount and set up an account to view your social security statement. This statement will show your work history which you can check for discrepancies.
- Check your bank and credit card statements for fraud. Each month, check your bank and credit card statements to make sure all the transactions were initiated by you. This is also a good time to check those recurring charges to be sure you’re not still paying for the daily newspaper from a town you no longer live in! If you find something you’re not sure about, do some research by calling the company in question or looking back over your receipts and calendar. If you do find fraud, report it immediately to your financial institution and they’ll tell you what to do next. Usually you will receive a new account number or credit card number.
- With the rise of AI voice technology and other AI tools, we may be headed for even more cyber crime through phishing emails or even voicemails. When in doubt, don’t assume. Make a personal phone call to the person you know to validate before you send any personal information over the internet.