Seniors fight back against scammers
Senior Australians are standing up to scammers, and are not as vulnerable as they have often been portrayed.
New research to be unveiled this week says despite a huge volume of scams targeting older Australians, retirees are resisting and getting better at stopping scams as they become more comfortable online.
Almost 5000 people aged over 50 were quizzed by National Seniors and 22 per cent said they had been a victim of an internet scam, with many reporting being bombarded by scammers.
One person reported being called several times a week.
Another said: "I've had many phone calls telling me that Telstra were going to cut off my internet, Microsoft is getting error messages from my PC, the Tax Office is taking action against me etc".
National Seniors chief executive Professor John McCallum said older Australians were switched on to scam protection and should not be assumed to be vulnerable based on their age.
"Of respondents aged 80-plus, who are usually described as 'left behind' by these technologies, we found that over half … used an internet search engine every day, more than 50 per cent did online banking at least once a week if not daily, over 30 per cent group text every day and nearly 20 per cent are on Facebook every day," he said.
"The negative stereotype of all older Australians as digitally disengaged is a far cry from reality."
The research, to be presented at the National Elder Abuse Conference in Brisbane this week, found seniors are protecting themselves through keeping virus protection updated, deleting suspicious emails, hanging up on unsolicited calls and asking for help from others - particularly their adult children - when unsure.
Prof McCallum said there remained risks of a "vicious cycle" for older Australians.
"Those less savvy are more vulnerable, leading to being scammed, which then leads to less willingness to being online, which results in remaining less savvy and so on," he said.
Wealth for Life Financial Planning principal Rex Whitford said scammers' tactics had improved tenfold over the past decade and some fake web pages were "exceptionally good replicas".
Mr Whitford said older people were key targets because they often had the most money.
"Scammers will always chase the money," he said.
"They know not everyone will fall for it, and older people offer a bigger bang for their buck."
Mr Whitford said some seniors could be too trusting.
"They're honest people who have worked hard all their lives and this sort of deception doesn't even enter their mind," he said.
"But there's less vulnerability now as newer generations of retirees come in who are more tech savvy."
A recent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report found that over-55s reported the most losses from scams.
SENIORS STOP SCAMMERS BY:
• Having good virus protection on all devices.
• Never giving out personal information over the phone.
• Being alert for spelling errors or unusual addresses in suspicious emails.
• Warning others of known scams.
• Reporting scams attempts to authorities.
• Monitoring scam alerts.