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Older Americans and Cybersecurity: It’s More Important Than Senior Coffee

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

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By Chetrice Mosley-Romero

Here in Indiana, when it comes to the month of May, there’s a lot going on.

  • You’ve got kids of all ages, teenagers, and young adults, too, finishing the school year and moving onto to the next stage of their life.
  • Couples are headed down the aisle and, seemingly, almost all of us knows someone who’s getting married. Am I right?
  • And, of course, at the end of the month, everyone (regardless of where we’re at) will be celebrating being “Back Home Again in Indiana”. By then, you’ll be one of the more than 350,000 people at the track to experience the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Or you’ll be kicking off your Memorial Day weekend with a picnic or party of our own.

Regardless of where in the Hoosier state we’re at, some of the people who’ll be with us for that grad party, or who will be gathering together, as friends, to share each other’s company for yet another trip to the Indianapolis 500 (that always begins with a cup of that much-appreciated senior coffee), is why we have another reason to celebrate the month of May and that’s because it’s Older Americans Month.

OK, it’s fair to say that you might not have had that one on your calendar. But I think you’ll agree that It’s important and some of the “why” that’s true might surprise you (HINT: it involves cybersecurity).

One of the ways, every day, we pay tribute to older people is by helping to protect them, especially as it regards their personal and financial information when they’re online.  Cybercrime cost Americans over the age of 50 nearly $3 billion last year and that’s an increase of 62 percent from 2020, according to the FBI’s 2021 Elder Fraud Report.

In fact, the number of victims could be much higher, as seniors are also less likely to report fraud, says the FBI. This is supported by figures from the Federal Trade Commission, which show that while 44 percent of younger people in their twenties reported losing money to fraud, only 20 percent of those who are in their seventies did the same.

The cyber-related risks show up in everything from fraudulent phone calls, phishing attempts in emails and text messages to social media messages and shopping scams and all of it is designed, specifically, to trick someone who’s older out of their savings.

To help keep that from happening, the National Council on Aging suggests there are four steps that seniors can take for improving their personal cybersecurity, including:

  • Don’t click on links in emails from unfamiliar senders. Be wary of strange or unexpected messages, even if they’re from people you know.
  • Don’t open any attachments unless you know the sender and were expecting them to send the information to you.
  • Ignore any unsolicited phone calls and “robocalls.”
  • Don’t respond to or click on pop-up windows on your phone or computer.

The FBI, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) offer a great deal of free resources to help you avoid being the victim of an online scam or identity theft.

If the worst happens and you believe that you’ve been the victim of a cybercrime, visit the Indiana Cyber Hub website and go to our “Report a Cyber Incident” page -- there you’ll find all of the steps you need to take to protect yourself and begin recovering.

Best of all, these resources are all FREE. That’s less than even the best deal you’ll find for that senior coffee!