'When in Doubt, Throw it Out' Being a Senior and Internet Safe

How to Avoid Scams as a Senior

Did you know that Australians over the age of 65 have lost a total of more than $56 million to financial scams? Owning the highest total of money lost to scams across all age demographics? 

This is something Logan woman June Woolley’s friend is familiar with. She almost lost $27,000  to a scam carried out on Facebook where she believed June messaged her asking for money for an investment promising a great return. 

June’s profile had messaged her, only it wasn’t June behind the screen. 

If it wasn’t for June calling her later that day she never would have realised it wasn’t her friend asking for the money, and that she had been the victim of a scam. Thankfully, she was able to contact the bank and get her money back. But some people aren’t as lucky.  

This is just one of many elaborate scams targeting seniors every day. Online scammers are getting better and better, and as a senior you are a higher target because you are seen to have more wealth and be less internet savvy. 

So it’s more important now than ever to make sure you know how to detect a scam like this one, protect your money, your personal information and yourself. 

What are the common online scams to look out for? 

Dating Scams

Some scammers use social media dating apps to target lonely seniors and trick them into revealing personal information and sending gifts or money, under the pretence of romance. 

Investment Scams 

Scammers will often offer an investment opportunity either over email, text, phone or through hacking a friend’s social media account, promising a big return. Rule of thumb is: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Unexpected Prize and Lottery Scams

Some scammers will contact you saying that you have won a prize or the lottery and try to trick you into clicking a link or giving personal and financial information to claim it. 

Inheritance Scams 

Inheritance Scams work the same as lottery scams where they trick you into giving compromising information under the guise of receiving an inheritance. 

Rebate Scams

Rebate scams try to convince you that you are entitled to a rebate or reimbursement from the government, a bank or trusted organisation.

How to Stay Cyber Safe 

Learn how you can avoid scams
Credit: Samia Liamani

In the case a friend is messaging you about anything money related. Make sure you speak to them over the phone or in person first, before you send your money to them.

According to Protect Seniors Online, these are the top things you can do as a senior to best avoid scams:

  • Don’t be pressured into making a decision: If there is a sense of urgency it’s likely a scam.
  • Be suspicious of requests for money – even if they sound or look official.
  • Think before you act: Consider reaching out directly to the company or person by phone to determine if the email is legitimate or not. Don’t use the contact details provided in the email to you though. 
  • Be cautious of people you meet on social media or online dating sites who either profess strong feelings for you quite quickly and try to communicate via other avenues like chat or email.
  • Don’t respond to phone calls or emails offering financial advice or opportunities – just hang up or delete the email.

How to protect your personal information and avoid being taken advantage of:

  • Don’t share your location on social media 
  • Create strong passwords 
  • Set your social media account on private 
  • Adjust your browser safety settings
  • Log out of websites and accounts after you use them

When in Doubt, Throw it out! 

Ultimately, a rule to live by when it comes to these sorts of things is; ‘When in Doubt, Throw it out!’ That could mean the difference between being safe on the internet and being the victim of a scam. 

Repeat after me ‘When in Doubt, Throw it Out!’

If you want to learn more, there are plenty of resources provided by the government to help seniors develop digital literacy skills. The E Safety Commissioner website offers a free online presentation that tests your ability to detect and avoid scams on social media, when buying or selling something online, or online banking. As well as what to do if you think you are the victim of a scam!