More Older Adults Are Using the Internet Than Ever, Increasing Their Risk of Being Targeted by Online Scams

OMAHA, Neb., March 25, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Seniors are increasingly adopting technology and choosing to stay connected online through smartphone devices, tablets and computers. In fact, Pew Research found that 67 percent of seniors age 65 and older say they use the internet regularly, a number that has steadily increased over the last 20 years.

While many online habits for seniors are similar to those of younger generations, such as checking email, social media or online banking, older adults are often at higher risk for scams and hacks, including tax fraud. In fact, a survey by Home Instead Senior Care revealed that two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. seniors online have been the victim or target of at least one common online scam or hack. While AARP found more than half of all U.S. financial fraud victims are over the age of 70, and 90 percent of investment fraud victims are older than 50 years of age.

"We know technology is a great way to stay connected with family and friends, get access to news and entertainment, and simplify tasks like banking and scheduling appointments, but it can also open us up to be the target of a scam," said Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead Senior Care. "It's important for seniors to feel confident when going online. Understanding best practices and signs of phishing, fraud and other online scams can go a long way to help them feel empowered."

While new scams are created every day, the most common are those that attempt to create a sense of urgency around sensitive information. For example, seniors are often targeted by criminals for tax related scams in which they impersonate IRS agents and demand victims pay overdue charges. Other scams regularly aimed at seniors include fake sweepstakes, tech support fraud and imposters pretending to be a grandchild in distress in need of financial support. In all these cases, it is best to think before taking action or sharing personal information.

Seniors are encouraged to take the following precautions to protect themselves online:

    --  Create strong passwords. Lock all internet-enabled devices, including
        computers, tablets and smartphones, with secure passwords - at least 12
        characters long using a variety of letters, numbers and symbols.
    --  Secure access to accounts, with two-step verification. Many online
        services, including apps and websites, offer free options to help
        protect personal information.
    --  When in doubt, throw it out. If an email or message looks unusual,
        delete it. Clicking on links in email is often how scammers access
        personal information. Turn on spam filters to scan for suspicious
    --  Share with care. Be aware of what you share publicly on social media and
        adjust privacy settings to limit who can see your information.
    --  Log out. Log out of apps and websites when you're finished using them.
        Leaving them open on your computer or smartphone could make you
        vulnerable to security and privacy risks.
    --  Choose the right technology. Consider devices developed specifically
        with older adults in mind, such as GrandPad. This can be a great way to
        introduce technology through a controlled, easy-to-use platform. It also
        helps seniors stay connected with loved ones while living independently
        at home.
    --  Use trusted Wi-Fi resources. Hackers may try to intercept your internet
        communications. Confirm that the network you wish to join is that of a
        trusted business or company. If the network doesn't seem valid, use your
        personal hotspot.
    --  Do your research. Many scammers will create authentic looking websites
        to gain trust. If a site is unfamiliar to you, do additional research to
        ensure its legitimate before sharing personal information.

Home Instead seeks to provide seniors and their loved ones with the necessary tools and resources to better protect themselves online. To learn more, visit for tips and tricks to avoid becoming the target of a scam. Start by taking the online "Can you Spot an Online Scam" quiz to test your knowledge of cybersecurity.

Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead Senior Care® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 70 million hours of care annually throughout the United States, Canada and 10 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 80,000 CAREGivers worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead Senior Care franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum - from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer's care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. Visit Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE Home Instead Senior Care