How your grandkids could hold the key to foiling scammers

Oct 13, 2023
Seniors are being urged to learn how to void online scams by the AFP. Source: Getty Images

Online scams have been around almost as long as the internet has existed. Almost everyone has received a suspicious email from someone claiming to be a foreign royal or asking for a dodgy-looking invoice to be paid.

But as technology has advanced, so too has the complexity of scams. Scammers now contact people claiming to be government officials or take over personal social media accounts to entrap the person’s friends and family. Some scammers are even convincing people to install malware on their computers by claiming to represent Telstra or the NBN.

Older Australians, particularly those over 65, are disproportionately affected by scammers. As a part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have launched a new campaign to raise awareness amongst older Australians about online scams.

As part of the campaign, the AFP is urging seniors to learn their cyber ABCs, that is:

  • Avoid clicking on links sent in unsolicited email or text;
  • Block calls on mobile devices from suspected scammers; and,
  • Call your financial institution immediately if you identify a suspicious transaction or you believe your bank account has been targeted by cyber criminals.

The campaign comes at a time when more and more Australians are becoming vulnerable to scammers. Cash and cheques are becoming increasingly phased out and financial institutions are reducing their number of physical branches, especially in regional areas.

This has forced many people to use online banking services for the first time, which has exposed them to cyber crime. While many older Australians are cyber and digitally aware, others may need extra help to stay cyber safe.

The AFP have created a series of short 90 second videos that educate people on how to avoid common scams. For further support on avoiding scams, the AFP have recommended that seniors use a potentially overlooked but powerful resource: the grandkids!

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Cyber Command Paula Hudson said some of the best information and tips for avoiding scams can come from grandchildren or younger family or friends who have grown up with technology.

“Grandchildren – whether they are 20 or 40 years old – can be one of the greatest lines of defence for older generations when it comes to the online world. Today, we are asking Australians to have conversations with grandparents or parents about simple things they can do to protect themselves,” Hudson said.

“And the videos we have released are only 90 seconds long. It would be great if grandkids could watch the videos with their nan, and pop, nonno or nonna, or baba or deda. It also gives an opportunity for younger generations to brush up on their knowledge.”

Hudson also said that people need to speak up if they have become victims of cybercrime.

“What we have found in the past is that some older Australians who have become the victim of cybercrime become embarrassed and blame themselves. Often they do not tell anyone and that’s what we need to change,” she said.

“We do not want any victim of crime to be ashamed. These tips and videos will hopefully empower all generations to stay cyber safe because any one at any age can be targeted by cybercrime.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also outlined some further tips for avoiding cyber scams:

  • Always make sure you know who you are dealing with or talking to. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If you are not sure that an offer is genuine, do not go through with the purchase or share personal details.
  • Check if the company is registered through the ABN lookup website.
  • Read reviews of the business and check for signs that it could be a scam.
  • Use a credit card rather than a debit card or bank transfer so that you can ask your bank for a chargeback.
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