Safety & Security
Why are scammers targeting older Americans?
by First Financial Bank

In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’re sharing information that we hope you’ll find helpful in keeping your personal data safe, both online and in your every day life.

Adults 65 years or older are increasingly adopting online technology and using it with regularity. According to the Pew Research Center, internet use among those 65 and older grew 150% between 2009 and 2011, the largest growth in a demographic group. Some 34% now use social media.

While social media allows older adults to connect with relatives who live far away, renew old acquaintances and feel less isolate, it also exposes them to increased risk.

Why are older adults at greater risk? Since they did not grow up with technology, they are often intimidated by technology and refrain from asking for help from embarrassment. Additionally, because so much of their world has moved line—physicians, bankers, insurance providers—they may presume everything online is legitimate.

If you are an older adult or a person who cares for one, here are some tips for staying safe online:

  1. Keep your “friends” close. It may be tempting to connect with anyone who requests but make sure it’s someone you know and trust before accepting invitations.
  2. Read the fine print on privacy. Nearly every application, website or social media platform has privacy settings that you control. Don’t just accept the default settings. Be sure to confirm specifically what information you want shared or exposed.
  3. Be cautious of links. Sending links through email or tools like Facebook Messenger is an easy way for scammers to engage their targets, especially with offers of free gifts. If you’re not sure of the sender or weren’t expecting a link, don’t click on it. Call the sender to make sure it’s legitimate before clicking.
  4. Change passwords often. It’s good practice to change your passwords occasionally, to reduce your risk of compromise. If you need to write them down to remember, keep them in a secure place where a thief wouldn’t think to look.
  5. Attend a class. Many senior centers and other institutions offer free classes on fraud and using technology safely. The more comfortable you feel with technology and the more you know about potential risks the safer you can engage in online activity.

Telephone scams are also on the rise so be cautious of callers who request personal information such as account numbers, passwords, social security numbers or other private data to confirm your identity. If they are calling you, they should already have that information. It’s ok to ask for their main number so you can call them back to verify. If they’re scammers, they’ll likely just hang up.

The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) offers these additional tips for staying safe online, click to read. To learn more about setting up security alerts for your account, click here or visit your local banking center and speak with an associate.