How to Help Your Elderly Loved One Practice Online Safety

The internet can be a minefield of phishing attacks, scams, viruses, and data leaks. It’s not just individuals; even large companies with dedicated IT support teams are vulnerable to digital security hacks.

A non-tech-savvy older person can become an extremely vulnerable target for digital scams. While it might be challenging to achieve foolproof security, we can reduce the risk of attacks through smart online choices.

Here are a few tips to help your elderly loved one stay cyber safe.

Protect the Password

Creating, maintaining, and remembering the passwords for your 101 online accounts have turned into a veritable nightmare. Every website or app has unique conditions to create a perfect password. The additional password requirements can increase the possibility of creating an easy-to-remember password (Hello123! / Your birthdate) or using the same password for several accounts – a sure-shot way to open yourself to online hacking.

Use a well-reviewed password manager to sidestep this problem. There are several in the market, and some of them even offer a free trial period to get you acquainted with its features and benefits. A password manager provides strong encryption as a line of defense against scammers, allows you to store multiple passwords for all your online accounts, can be accessed from anywhere and only on platforms or devices specified by you as safe.

Apply Two-step Authentication

Despite our best efforts, passwords can still get stolen, hacked, or misused by scammers. Adding a two-step authentication on all your important accounts (think online banking, e-commerce sites, social media, email, etc.) can offer an additional layer of protection. Several authenticator tools are available online for free and for a paid subscription.

You can also specify your phone number or email id as an authenticator alert for your elderly loved one’s digital accounts, ensuring that you get notified every time it gets accessed.

Invest in a Digital Wallet

Help your loved one transition from credit cards and cash to digital wallets like Apple or Google Pay for regular store transactions and using online wallets like PayPal for digital transactions. The digital wallet ensures that only your loved ones can access their funds and has multiple layers of protection to prevent phishing attacks.

Install Pop-up Blockers

Almost all internet browsers come with extensions and add-ons to help block malware and phishing sites from accessing your account or computer. Choose and install the best-reviewed browser add-ons for your loved one’s internet browsing needs and your peace of mind. Always run a scheduled maintenance check on your family member’s computer to ensure all protection tools and software are up to date.

Block Unwanted Information Sharing

Many mobile or desktop apps request permission to access your stored and live details before you can start installing and using the application. Access to this stored information is often unnecessary and simply a ploy to collect user data for future marketing. While the apps on the app store get verified for their authenticity, it doesn’t prevent scammers from exploring safety loopholes to access your data.

Some of the oft-requested information include your location (GPS), contact list, camera, photo gallery, text messages, microphone, etc. Once you have downloaded the app, you can go to your phone or computer settings and revoke access to information that seems unnecessary for using the application or grant access only when the app is in use.

You can also apply this privacy check on your loved one’s social media accounts to prevent oversharing personal details on a public platform.

Filter Out Spam and Suspicious Messages

While distress emails from princes and queens in exile seeking your bank account number to transfer their entire wealth have almost disappeared from the scam hotlist, new and more authentic-looking scams have started to make their way up the hitlist.

It’s become harder to distinguish between a regular marketing email from your bank versus spam or a phishing email mimicking your bank’s tone, voice, and email id requesting your account details. The best bet in this scenario is to alert your loved one of the potential risks of sharing confidential information online or on the phone. If the email or text message sounds urgent, it’s best to reach out to the concerned company’s support staff on the phone to verify the authenticity.

Turn on the spam filter on their email account to weed out suspicious-looking messages. Explain to your loved one how to identify questionable-looking links and how to block them for good.

Educating your loved ones about the latest digital pitfalls is perhaps the best protection tool to safeguard their online privacy and security.

At Affinity, we specialize in 24-hour senior care. Our caregivers can assist with daily tasks such as mobility, medication reminders, eating (including meal prep), exercising, and personal care (grooming and bathing). If you are looking for additional support to meet the changing needs of your family member, please reach out to us at: or call Affinity at 248-363-8430.