In recent years, the use of technology and social media has increased significantly, especially among older individuals. A survey conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in 2019 showed that 76 percent of individuals aged 65 to 74 years old “said they had used social media, up from 40 percent five years previously. An increase in social media use was also seen among people aged 75 and over.”
An article from Huffpost states, “according to the Pew Research Center, internet use among those 65 and older grew 150 percent between 2009 and 2011, the largest growth in a demographic group. Furthermore, their 2012 study showed that of those that go online, 71 percent do so daily, and 34 percent use social media.”
While the use of social media increases, the dangers and amount of risk increases, as well. The use of social media puts all users at risk. Sharing personal information and clicking on untrustworthy links can all lead to fraud and other scams. Regardless of age, using precautions and staying safe on social media is important; however, older individuals are often singled out and are susceptible to being targeted by scammers.
Silver Comet Village, located in Powder Springs, Georgia, encourages individuals to use social media for all of its benefits, like staying connected to friends and family. Still, we are well aware of the dangers that the increasing popularity of this advancing technology presents. To help users stay safe on social media, we have gathered tips and practices that will assist in the prevention of fraud and scams.
How Older Adults are Specifically Targeted
Social media provides a great screen for scammers. It makes presenting a fake presence seem friendly and real. Because they are newer to jump onboard social media, creating the myth that they are not social media savvy, older individuals are often targeted. For scammers, there are many ways that they can target seniors because there is a tendency that they are more trusting when it comes to online engagement.
The Grandparent Scam
This scam is all too common. In this scenario, the scammer contacts an older adult, pretending to be a grandchild in financial trouble. They create a profile and online presence that looks like the target’s grandchild and use it to extract money from the senior, asking that they do not tell other family members about the situation. Because the profile seems real and there is an emotional connection, the older adult often goes through with the transaction.
Due to the stress of finances and retirement funds, older individuals can be more susceptible to falling victim to financial scams. Scammers use this stress to their advantage. A common tactic is to pose as the IRS, claiming to need more information regarding a tax return.
Social media has become a great way to share personal updates as well as news that is happening throughout the world. Unfortunately, it is easy to create fake news. According to Forbes, this fake news “has taken its toll, with The Washington Post reporting…that seniors are unfortunately the most likely to reshare fake news, which likely indicates they believe the items they are sharing.” If an older adult believes fake news of a global crisis, he or she is much more likely to fall victim to scammers attempting to take advantage of the situation.
Tips to Promote Safety on Social Media
Controlling privacy settings is the best way to protect personal information across social media platforms. Users can determine who can view specific posts, photos, and information, limiting access to those he or she does not know.
This allows older adults to protect themselves from scammers viewing information that links them to family members, protecting against the previously mentioned grandparent scheme.
One of the most effective ways to limit the possibility of fraud is to use precautions when clicking on links. Only click on links that are from reputable sources, and refrain from sharing these links unless they are 100 percent verified.
Don’t Talk to Strangers
We all grew up with the rule, “do not talk to strangers,” and it still holds true today; however, it can be more challenging to determine whether another user is a stranger or not on social media. Thoroughly examine the user’s profile to determine if he or she is who they say they are. Chances are, something will be wrong or seem off if it is a scammer.
Silver Comet Village knows the value of social media and how it can be used for a number of benefits for all users, but the dangers will continue to present themselves. Practicing safe habits online can deter these risks and help protect not only the user but also his or her family and friends. At Silver Comet Village, family connections and a sense of community are extremely important to us. Visit our website or contact us to learn more about our approach to senior living.
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