Be Secure Online Blog

Senior Citizens. Twice as likely to get ripped off online

In this article, BeSecureOnline disucsses E-Safety for senior citizens online.

Senior citizens - Internet Safety Information and Internet Security Tips



Just like young internet and mobile users, seniors citizens deserve to stay safe online. Afterall, it’s not just the younger generations using the internet and online services.

The majority of seniors in developed countries use the internet to access critical services such as healthcare, stay in touch with family, browse news, stay active in the workforce and even earn a living or conduct business. Additionally, seniors are active users on shopping and payment sites, dating and matrimonial services as well as social media.

This guide carries useful internet safety information, rules and internet security tips for seniors helping to ensure they do not fall prey to email scams, phishing, malpractices and fraudulent people.  

Our E Book is thoughtfully written and includes loads of tips for older online users, as well as simple steps they can take to be safer online. *Always remember to run your anti virus before buying anything online.

Networking with friends and family

Online services are the quickest and cheapest modes of staying in touch with friends and family no matter where they are in the world. According to one study, 56% seniors who use the internet use it to access Facebook. They also use video conferencing via services such as Skype or Facebook Messenger. 

Safety tips

Password security:

  • Passwords should be long, at least 8 characters, and should include special characters, numbers or symbols.
  • Names and common words should be avoided.
  • Passwords should never be shared with anyone except in cases where an assistant runs an account.
  • New login methods include fingerprint and multi-factor authentication.

Privacy settings:

  • Social networking sites allow many ways to control who sees your posts and updates. You can use the settings to restrict your posts only to specific individuals, friends, their friends or the public at large.
  • Smart phones also offer privacy settings for locations and personal information.

Do not post randomly:

  • Social media users judge people based on their posts. Even friends can possibly share some sensitive material.
  • Prudence should thus be exercised before posting anything.

Stop spam:

  • Use spam filters
  • Unsubscribe from unwanted emails.
  • Do not click on any links they carry.

Report abuse:

  • Contact services that offer protection or appropriate authorities if you receive abusive, threatening, or intimidating messages.

Common scams

There are many types of scams floating around on the internet. The following are some commonly encountered online scamming practices.

Safety Tips

  • Emergency messages: Anyone sending out a cry for help may not be genuine. Verify through direct contact or alternative means.
  • Bill fraud: These involve sending out bills and asking for payment, and can even come from imposters posing as a government agency. 
  • Dating: Dating websites can be used to lure people to part with money.
  • Computer viruses: Imposters use well known brands to send a virus alert.

Meeting new friends and romantic partners

Seniors love to network and organize and schedule social activities online. Whether it is a common cause, hobbies, romance or political activism, online forums and groups are a popular way to interact with like-minded people.

Safety tips

  • Ensure that the first planned meetings are in a public place such as a restaurant or garden. Inform someone about the plan too.
  • Dating scams are hard to figure out, so be extra cautious with all interactions, and avoid leaving the site and interacting personally. Stick to reputable sites.
  • Stay alert and observe any red flags, instant affection, or requests to share personal contacts. Watch out for those who claim to be your country’s citizens and traveling overseas, as usually they are not.
  • Observe the quality of communication, writing and any signs that reveal no real intention of a personal meeting.
  • Refuse all monetary help.

Online debates and discussions

The internet is a great way to share opinions, debate and participate in discussions. Some precautions however must be observed by seniors.

Safety Tips

Stay polite:

Respect all views and avoid swearing and calling names.

Learn to detect fake claims and facts:

 Many people intend to spread lies and malice related to popular figures and celebrities, and some may even do so without knowing so.

In case of doubt:

Do a background research on any disturbing claim or fact.

Shopping, payments and travel

Online shopping also has its fair share of risks. Just like younger generations, seniors go online to buy items that would be difficult to find nearby. Buying online requires use of cards and banking services, another convenience associated with the internet.

Safety tips

  • Make sure all passwords are unique and strong. 
  • Common scams involve phising emails and social media purporting to be from banks, finance companies or government agencies. Do not click on links found in emails. Phishing is a well known trick that involves using websites that look like an official website of a bank or organization.
  • Avoid and delete messages that bait with alerts such as winning a contest or vacation, or cheap medicines are another way to scam people. 
  • Stick to shopping at reputed online websites. Fake websites can steal credit card information or may not send the goods. Secure websites carry the ‘https’ address, with an ‘s’ at the end.
  • Install only official, legitimate mobile apps belonging to your bank or the company you are dealing with.
  • Avoid paying cash or sending money by check or money order. Credit and debit cards are preferable as these payments can be stopped in case of doubt or actual fraud.
  • Some transactions cannot be reversed, such as those related to stocks or certain flight tickets and accommodation. In case of error, ask the company if the transaction can be undone before it is too late.
  • Browse cancellation and return policies, shipping rules, taxes and other fees before buying. 
  • Funding campaigns and online causes are quite popular at sites like Indiegogo, GoFundMe or Kickstarter. Read up all essential information and carry out background research before donating. Often charities seek donations. Ensure that the charity exists and the website is authentic. Use online checkers.
  • Do not share your full date of birth or place and physical address unless the website is authentic and trusted and the information is essential, such as for opening a bank account.
  • Keep track of activity on your bank and card accounts, and report immediately in case you suspect foul play.

Health and Fitness

The internet can be a great source for health and fitness related information, including websites that offer guidance on medical conditions, treatments and forums to seek advice.

Safety Tips

While there are reputed healthcare website such as Mayo Clinic and government managed portals, some sites are there only to sell medicines and should be used carefully. Care must also be taken while acting on any tip or medical advice found online. 

It is prudent to avoid making a self diagnosis based on information found online. Many sites carry information that hasn’t been checked by medical professionals. Consulting a qualified professional is therefore necessary. Do not share personal or health data on any site or mobile app that is not authentic. Sites like offer a list of popular medical sites.

Similar care should be taken for sites related to food, exercise and recipes. Videos are a great platform but be sure to consult with a qualified professional before following advice or exercise routines. also contains useful fitness and food sites.

Health insurance, social security and Inland Revenue

Seniors often have to interact with government agencies, and the internet makes it extremely convenient. Some precautions are however necessary to avoid falling a victim to a scam.

Safety tips

  • Internal Revenue will never make a phone call about taxes. Call them directly to cross check in case you receive such calls. 
  • Use only official sites and software for filing taxes online.
  • Do not share government related personal identification numbers or date of birth in emails. 
  • Beware of people who pose as doctors or healthcare organizations and ask for health insurance related information

Safety tips while seeking help from family members or caretakers

Seniors may sometimes need help from a family member, caretaker or advisor when dealing with taxes, legal issues or house related matters. Such caretakers may have access to the senior’s accounts with banks, healthcare institutions and other websites. Such access requires legal authorization or a power of attorney. 

Only authorized trusted persons are allowed to access your accounts. Seek legal help and refer to government websites to make sure authorization is done correctly. In all circumstances, do not freely give access to your accounts on social networking, medical sites, or financial accounts to anyone, including family members.

BeSecureOnline - Internet Security Software and Antivirus Software UK

Government Research in the UK indicates that 70% of active seniors are online regularly. Booking flights, banking, shopping and keeping in touch is vitally important to our senior citizens as they become less mobile. Unfortunately our senior’s are twice as vulnerable online as criminals actively target them.

Contact us, for more information about our internet safety talks for seniors, internet security software and antivirus softwares (AVG, BitDefender, F-Secure and iKydz Wireless Remote Access.

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