More and more seniors have been sporting smartphones (who said they wouldn’t adopt this beneficial technology? Not us!).
In 2016, there were 1.5 billion smartphones sold worldwide and 70% of Americans own smartphones!
This is great news for family caregivers who are introducing their senior loved ones to a variety of apps for safety, fun, and remote health monitoring.
But what about keeping them secure when using their smartphone?
Security Tips to Avoid Scams
Is setting up strong passwords and limiting their public presence in social media enough to keep them from becoming victims of technology abuse and scams?
No. There are no guarantees in this connected world, when so much of our information is under the control of others. We can, however, make it as difficult as possible for someone who intends to do our senior loved one or us harm in the digital world.
Here are some tips for family caregivers, items for which we could be on the lookout and inform/remind our senior loved ones about potential pitfalls that could put them in the path of criminals looking to steal their identity and their nest egg.
- Spam text messages – people report responding to spam on their cell phones more often than they would on a computer. Examples of spam text messages include: cheap medications, free gift cards, and winning items. Once your senior clicks on the link for these ‘too good to be true’ offers, they are infected with malware that will collect sensitive information in order to steal their identity.
TIP: Experts say don’t follow links, click on items or respond with NO or STOP as directed, which only gives the scammer access. Install anti-malware on their smartphone.
- Bank messages – receiving a text message or email from your bank or credit card company indicating your account has a problem and please click this link and then directs you to add your account information and login – don’t do it! Your bank will usually call you if there is a problem and if they send an email, will already have your account information so won’t ask for it again.
TIP: Don’t give anyone by text, email, or phone your bank or credit account information unless you initiate the communication using a phone number, web address, or other contact information you have independent of the text message or email.
- Voice message – if someone your senior doesn’t know calls their smartphone letting it ring only once or disconnecting upon them answering and leaves a voice message stating they won something, don’t respond. Many people are intrigued and will call back only to be charged fees for a premium connection to an international number and other charges.
TIP: Don’t respond to any phone calls or voice messages from people your senior doesn’t know. Program the phone with names of all potential callers, no known name, no answer.
- IRS calling – someone identifying themselves as an IRS investigator calls and claims an arrest will be made if they don’t pay thousands of dollars in fines. Instructions for loading gift cards with increments of $500 and then giving the caller the code numbers to activate these cards.
TIP: IRS will not call your senior demanding payment information. Do not give anyone gift card codes for payment.
- Local government – receiving a call from the local sheriff or other law enforcement saying your senior missed jury duty and now owes a penalty of $1,000 (or some other amount) and requesting immediate payment.
TIP: Law enforcement will never call for payment for fines, including jury duty. Contact law enforcement to report this scam.
Actions for Caregivers
Caregivers can take actions to help keep their seniors’ smartphones more secure with these actions.
- Install protection with a strong PIN or use a fingerprint to open the smartphone in order to protect it in case it is lost or stolen. The latest technology, on several phones now, allows for facial recognition or retinal scanning, which gives more protection.
- Activate Find My Phone – if your senior’s smartphone is lost, accidentally left somewhere or where other people could take it, being able to locate it using this app will help caregivers locate their older adult’s phone. Misplacing a smartphone is not uncommon.
- When the smartphone might be misplaced inside the home, keep the ringer on so that if the phone’s location is forgotten, another could call the number in order to uncover its hiding place with less effort.
There are so many great benefits from increased communication, safety, health, and remote monitoring for older adults that come with the use of smartphones, not to mention how they will become the hub for smart home features in the future. This is why it will be important for family caregivers to create a safe environment for seniors to accept them and use them securely.
Small precautions will help gain huge paybacks for caregivers and seniors!