“Hello! Hello! Hello! Is that you Beta? Speak up dear… I can’t hear very well.”(That’s my Aunt Lata on the phone, loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear.)
“Yes, yes, Aunty. I can hear you very well. How are you?”
“I am a bit worried dear. Your Uncle received this mail saying his e-mail ID is the lucky winner of INR 10 lacs (1 million). To claim the prize, he had to send his name, telephone number and bank details at the earliest.”
“Oh dear! This is a scam. Hope he didn’t reply to that mail!”
“Yes he did. Now they are saying they want his netbanking details to transfer the amount. But before that, he has to pay a fee of INR 5000 to cover sundry expenses. He is now so excited about his win that he refuses to believe it could be a scam. Especially since the mail says it is from a reputed firm.”
Such stories are becoming part of every family’s stock tale, given the sharp rise in the number of senior people going online these days.
Just consider this mail I received a few days back: (image below)
It is clearly a scam mail. Here’s why:
- Numbers have been used instead of a name to label the user
- The mail body copy is generic as it doesn’t address me by name. Not much left to decipher at this point. Clearly, the scamster is waiting for someone to respond
- And there is no signature at the end of the mail
What if such a mail was received by a gullible person who is unaware of the modus operandi of the online crooks?
I do not want to sound like a wet blanket, but there are all kinds of scamsters online, as are there in the real world. And senior citizens are easy targets because they are digital immigrants.
So if there are senior citizens in your family and neighbourhood, do spare some time to educate them about online scams, spams and phishing attacks. In my previous blog, I wrote about helping moms to become net-savvy. Now, extend your hand to help senior citizens as well!
Some basic online safety guidelines for seniors:
- Distrust e-mails from strangers: If you receive mails soliciting friendship, business, monetary help etc., ignore Better still, mark them as Spam to stop such senders from bothering you in the future. Just because you receive a message from an authentic looking e-mail ID, it should not be assumed to be genuine. Don’t reply, even in jest. Remember the mantra I use to operate safely online – STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
- Beware of Scareware: Be extra suspicious of calls that claim to be from your bank, security software provider or email service providers that confidently assure you of fixing bugs in your system. Just so you know – these fixes are done automatically when you connect your device to the net if you have updated antivirus solutions.
- Nigerian Scam: Thanks to the widespread discussion on this tactic, most people are quite aware that money claiming to be kept aside in your name at some Nigerian bank is nothing but a hoax. STOP. Don’t click on any such links.
- You have won a lottery: Fraudsters try to catch their prey by using the names and IDs that look similar to those of reputed firms. Just STOP – Why should Facebook or Google or any firm for that matter, want to offer you millions for free? Remember, “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” especially on the internet.
- You are the millionth winner; click here NOW: Never fall for this trick. It mostly results in a malware/ virus attack that infects your computer and slows it down drastically. THINK about why would you be the ‘millionth winner; if you didn’t participate in any contest in the first place?
- Call from bank, security service provider: Do not SHARE personal details like date of birth, address, PAN card number, login ID, passwords with anyone telephonically. It is not easy to establish the authenticity of the caller, and even if a person visits you at home calling himself the representative of a bank, remember to ask for his ID before disclosing information.
My request to all readers: Teach senior citizens the know-hows of how to safely use a computer, tablet or smartphone. You will not only be doing them a great service, but also to yourself in becoming a responsible netizen. Join hands with your siblings, cousins, and friends to teach as many people as you can. This will make them more cautious, careful and responsible while surfing the internet.
Stay safe online, stay happy!