Cyberfraud: How to protect yourself and your loved ones

2 min read
27. May 2024

The digital world has so much to offer, but it’s not without its risks. Older people in particular are often the targets of cybercrime. Find out how you can protect yourself from scammers, and what you should make sure your older relatives are aware of.

What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime refers to criminal activities committed via the Internet or other digital communication media. The criminals’ methods are becoming more sophisticated each day. Older people in particular are frequent targets of cybercrime attacks because they are typically not as digitally savvy as other age groups.

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How the grandchild scam works today

The classic grandchild scam, where fraudsters claim to be the victim’s relatives and ask for money, has now moved onto the Internet. With the help of modern technology – most notably artificial intelligence (AI) – these scammers can generate highly convincing voices and even videos. They put together messages or phone calls that look and sound like they have come from the person’s actual relative. It can be difficult to recognise them as fraudulent at first glance.

So what should you look out for?

  • Unusual requests: Be sceptical when you receive unexpected messages or calls, especially if they are asking for money.

Call back: Call the person back, but use the number you know and not the one given in the call or message.

  • Check the facts: Ask about things only the real person would know. Fraudsters’ knowledge is often limited to more general information.
  • Be wary of links: Don’t click on links in e-mails or messages you weren’t expecting. They may take you to fraudulent websites designed to steal your data.
  • Check the details: Look out for typos and unusual phrasing. Criminals are often not perfect.

Examples of current scams

  • Fraudulent bank calls: Scammers claim to be bank staff calling to tell you that your account has been hacked. They’ll then tell you to transfer money to a “safe” account. Your bank would never do this by phone or e-mail. Call your bank directly and verify if the claim is real.
  • Phishing e-mails: These e-mails often look very realistic and seem to have been sent by companies you know. They’ll ask you to confirm your login details. Never enter your personal details using these links. Instead, go directly to the company’s official website.
  • WhatsApp scam: Scammers hack WhatsApp accounts and send messages to the hacked person’s contacts. They’ll ask for money or personal information. Treat requests like this with scepticism, even if they seem to come from someone you know.

Special tips for older people

  1. Check your security settings: Have someone you trust check your devices’ security settings regularly.
  2. Emergency contacts: Keep the contact details for a person you trust close at hand, in case you need help.
  3. Regular training: Attend training sessions or courses to learn about the latest techniques and security measures.
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Quick checks to keep you safe

  • Be sceptical: Always challenge unusual requests
  • Check the sender: Check the sender’s e-mail address carefully
  • Avoid links: Don’t click links in suspicious messages
  • Update your software: Ensure that all your devices and programs are running the latest version
  • Set strong passwords: Use unique, complex passwords for each account
  • Have some trusted contacts: Keep the phone numbers of people you trust to hand

Digitalisation offers us a wealth of opportunities, but is not without its risks. Modern grandchild scams use the latest technologies to gain our trust. You can protect yourself and your loved ones from these scams by acting with caution and taking the right preventative measures.

Note: this article is part of our series of articles “Fit for the Internet: Digital skills for all ages”, which focuses on promoting digital skills across all age groups.

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