Taking money from an elderly person
Cyber threats are reshaping society and the approach we take to protect our children and seniors. We often recognize and respond to dangers to children with passive and active methods to restrict their access to the site and content. With seniors, it’s not that simple. They have been our boss all of our lives and protecting them from themselves is sometimes difficult.
This morning my mother-in-law told me that she had a big blue shape on her computer that would not go away. She also said there was a booming British voice advising her to call the fit number for help. He said her computer had been infected and by calling the number she could get help. For a novice computer user, she saw no way to close the screen and the help was appreciated at that time. Fortunately, she did not call the number or click on any links associated with the message. After calling her daughter, we were able to remove the spyware exploit and put new protection on her computer.
I am saddened by the many Elders who will have been and have been exploited simply because technology and threats have overtaken them. Think of the millions of elderly people who do not have readily available assistance facing cunning and professional criminals on the other side of the internet. If she had called the number, they probably would have pushed her to pay for a service and download their software. The software may have been harmless to computer functions, but the intruder could have essentially entered his life. For experienced hackers, it’s like taking candy from a baby.
They do not understand
We would never allow criminals to go door to door and identify possible elderly victims. This is the current situation in the world. In some cases, not having as much access to digital media can be a good thing. It limits the access of criminals to the other side. The American Association for Retired People (AARP) and other organizations are now working very hard to raise awareness cyber threats. However, the opportunities to rip off the elderly are now increased.
AARP tells seniors that they need to understand the acceptance of cookies. They explain that computers should only allow downloads when the browser is open. Unfortunately, most older computer people have just learned about a browser and have no idea what cookies are. Most think cookies are a great gift because their equivalence in their world is what they give to grandchildren.
Part of the problem is ambivalence in society. Everyone now knows that there are hackers. However, most people don’t see themselves as potential victims. Seniors usually know which street to avoid at night, so they stay away. On the computer, we don’t know why, how, what, when or even who is trying to hire them. The danger is hidden in so many places that there are few safe internet streets.
The FBI confirms what we know about why the elderly are being targeted. Their Scams & Safety webpage (www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors) explains how very likely most older people are to own their homes, have savings, and live off. a retirement account they can access online. By simply playing with the odds, it’s a safe bet that older people, with their limited computer skills and extended free time, can be engaged. Through this commitment or through the art of social engineering, they can become partners who strive to give their money away. All this without them realizing that they are being manipulated.
How can I help
The only solution here is to explain the dangers to the elders the way they explained it to you as a child many years ago. They must first be aware of the danger and develop a healthy respect for a hacker’s ability has with today’s technology. Seniors should then be coached on what to do if they experience a particular type of event or see an email that is too good to be true. Many of them often receive emails promising free gift cards.
Finally, a senior’s computers should be set up to help thwart the hacker’s progress. Many of the attackers are computer-driven and automated. In other cases, hackers expect a positive response from the senior. It can be something as simple as filling out a form. I guess the hardest part is overcoming our own denial. Once we realize the loss that so many other seniors have suffered, such as the loss of everything electronically, we will act to save the people we love. Don’t let their lives disappear through the computer screen.