Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Keeping silver surfers safe:

Families urged to look out for signs of trouble & to make sure loved ones are protecting themselves
By Motherpedia
Date: November 12 2013
Editor Rating:

We usually focus on keeping our kids safe online, but what about our parents? New research shows older Australians are the latest vulnerable victims online.

Nearly one in five Australian internet users, aged 50-75 years, have been victims of online fraud including stolen credit card and bank details, email scams or online purchase scams, according to the Silver Surfers Survey by McAfee.

 A further seven in ten have received emails from strangers asking for personal information.

The survey also found more vulnerabilities with this age group, including on average, one in four have spoken to strangers online – a finding that is much higher than the teens and tweens’ survey McAfee conducted earlier this year – where only 8% and 19% respectively chatted to a stranger online.

“We know from our research on teens and tweens that these two age groups are at a high risk due to their fast adoption of technologies, but now we’re seeing the same trend with our older Australians and their internet behaviour – so cyber education at any age is critical,” said Keith Buckley, Managing Director or McAfee Asia Pacific.

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay from the Queensland Police Service says that he is seeing a huge representation of older Australians in those falling victim to romance-related scams.

“Over 90% of the millions of dollars of fraud money going to West African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana every month is from love scams. We also see older Australians getting caught up in lottery scams and much of this money goes to the US and Canada. Of particular concern is identity theft. 

“So the key here is prevention and awareness. We must deliver ongoing education to the older community to encourage them to protect themselves and to be aware of the risks, as once scammers get their hooks in, the threats get deeper and deeper.”

“It is also vital we educate family members, friends and support networks to look for the signs of trouble, as we know the earlier we intervene, the more successful the outcome.”

While the internet is proving risky for this age-group, the Silver Surfers survey also revealed that the internet can be a rewarding experience, with seven in 10 citing its importance in keeping connected with family and friends. A further one in two have used the internet to connect with lost family and friends or traced family trees.

President of ASCCA, Nan Bosler agrees with this finding and echoes the important role the internet plays in connection, “Often you find that older Australians are isolated from loved ones, or they have lost family members, so the internet is a wonderful place to help fill this loneliness.

“But as this research highlights, there are risks, so ASCCA drives the same message as McAfee in ensuring education is in place for our members so they can enjoy the benefits of technology safely.”

85% of older Australians log onto the internet daily and spend an average of 3.4 hours online each day – nearly the same amount of time as teenagers.

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