Canadians aged 65 and older represent the fastest growing group of internet users according to Public Safety Canada but they do not always take the precautionary steps to stay safe online. In fact, scammers will often target seniors because of perceived accumulated wealth, and feel that seniors are less likely to report crimes due to fear of embarrassment.
A new survey* by Home Instead Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network of franchised businesses that provide in-home care services to seniors, found that two-thirds (64 percent) of Canadian seniors have been the victim or target of at least one common online scam or hack. In addition, more than a third (39 percent) report that someone has tried to scam them online, and 29 percent of surveyed seniors have mistakenly downloaded a computer virus.
Mark Matz, Director of Policy and Issues Management with the National Cyber Security Directorate at Public Safety Canada, explains that encouraging seniors to safeguard themselves online can go a long way in protecting sensitive identity and financial information. “Protecting yourself online is all about planning ahead. Seniors may never encounter a security breach online, but it’s crucial to take the appropriate steps to ensure they don’t become a target,” said Matz.
To help seniors understand their risks online and take steps to protect themselves, the Home Instead Senior Care network collaborated with Public Safety Canada to launch a new public education program, Protect Seniors Online, available at www.ProtectSeniorsOnline.ca. The new program offers free resources and tips to help seniors understand how scammers operate, familiarize themselves with the most common senior scams and take proactive steps to help protect sensitive information. The resources include the online “Can You Spot an Online Scam?” http://dev.protectseniorsonline.com/quiz/ quiz to test seniors’ cyber security knowledge.
"For seniors, this is a time in their lives when they should be able to rest assured, trusting that their life’s earnings are protected,” said Brenda Enright of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Etobicoke. “Unfortunately, we know there are people who violate this trust. That is why we are committed to helping seniors empower themselves by understanding the ways they are at risk online and practicing good cybersecurity habits to protect their information and reduce their chances of being scammed.”
Research shows that more and more seniors are going online – and putting themselves at risk. According to Home Instead’s survey, 96 percent of aging adults use the internet at least once a week. They most commonly use the internet for email, with 93 percent of seniors doing so weekly. Seniors also use the internet to manage finances, with 41 percent banking online and just under a quarter (21 percent) paying bills online. Seniors are also active on social media, with 52 percent using Facebook or Twitter at least once a week. All that time online – coupled with what scammers view as perceived financial security and a trusting nature – can make seniors a primary target for scammers.
Seniors are encouraged to take the following precautions, compiled by Public Safety Canada’s Get Cyber Safe campaign (GetCyberSafe.ca), the Stop Think and Connect campaign and the Home Instead Senior Care network, to protect themselves online:
“Our hope is that by highlighting the ways scammers can gather sensitive information or hack technology, and providing seniors with cybersecurity solutions aging adults can implement themselves, we can help ensure their personal information, financial security and independence stay protected,” explains Enright.
Seniors can test their cybersecurity skills at “Can You Spot an Online Scam?” http://dev.protectseniorsonline.com/quiz/ and view other program resources and tips atProtectSeniosOnline.ca. Or, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office for additional resources and to learn how their professional CAREGiversSM may be able to assist. Find an office near you by visiting www.homeinstead.ca/.
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ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE
Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care network provides personalized care, support and education to help enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today this network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,000 independently owned and operated franchises that are estimated to annually provide more than 50 million hours of care throughout Canada and 12 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 65,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. The Home Instead Senior Care network strives to partner with each client and his or her family members to help meet that individual’s needs. Services span the care continuum from providing companionship and personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. At Home Instead Senior Care, it’s relationship before task, while striving to provide superior quality service.
*In October 2016, FleishmanHillard conducted telephone interviews with a random, self-selected sample of 1,003 North American seniors in the United States (503 seniors) and Canada (500 seniors) who use the internet or email more than once a month and own or have access to an internet-capable device.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.