Ensuring Senior Internet Cybersecurity: Common Scams


Advancements in technology have emboldened cyber predators, making protecting your grandparents more crucial than ever. After all, a cyber attack can lead to monetary loss, identity theft, and other significant long-term damages.

In order to help your loved one avoid falling victim to online and mobile phone crimes, it’s vital to help them stay informed. With enough vigilance, you can ensure your grandparents remain safe and feel confident navigating the web and their smartphone communications.

Below are some ways to avoid falling into the clutches of cyber criminals, including common senior internet and phone scams.


Talk to your grandparents about common scams.


Awareness is the first step; equipping your loved ones with the proper knowledge will ensure they can protect themselves.

Start by reminding your grandparents that scams, no matter the medium, are still very prevalent, and they need to be wary about how a fraudster could potentially target them. Consider researching and talking to them about common scams they may encounter.


Phone Phishing


This type of scam involves a fraudster calling your loved one on the phone to obtain personal information.

For example, they might claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and say there’s been a problem with their tax return to obtain their Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Alternatively, the fraudster may say they’re from a prominent IT company and convince your grandparent to grant remote access to their computer to fix a non-existent issue.

Let your loved one know they should always be skeptical and careful about giving out personal information over the phone, especially when someone demands immediate action.

To verify the identity of a worker over the phone, it helps to Google search the number that they’re calling from. Check whether the number is on an official business page or a government agency’s website.


Email phishing


Ensuring internet safety for seniors means also being wary of email phishing. This scam involves your loved one receiving emails that appear to be from a trusted source, such as a bank, mortgage company, or internet service provider.

These emails may ask the person to download an attachment, which will infect their device with malicious software (i.e., spyware or malware) like keyloggers or viruses that steal sensitive information.

Educating your grandparent on how to spot a legitimate email versus a scam is vital. While most email providers offer spam blocking, some malicious emails can slip through the cracks. 

Tell them to exercise a healthy amount of caution, even for legitimate senders. Checking the sender’s domain can help, but some domains are intentionally misleading. 

For instance, the sender might be from “,” which might look real, but upon closer inspection, the email uses a capital ‘i’ rather than an actual ‘L’ in the domain. If you’re unsure about whether a domain is legitimate, try comparing the domain in the email you received to any email address found in the contact section of the organization’s official website.  


Social media fraud


With social media use becoming increasingly commonplace, you’ll want to ensure that your grandparent has their accounts set to private wherever necessary. 

Limiting the amount of personal information shared on social media platforms is essential. Be careful not to click any suspicious links that lead to fraudulent websites, whether they’re links posted publicly or sent via direct message.

Websites might include, for example, online surveys that promise rewards. These websites will likely share the data collected with third-party companies, who then send spam emails. A scammer may even use your loved one’s personal information for nefarious purposes, such as identity theft.


Social engineering (i.e., psychological manipulation)


Internet security for seniors means knowing and warning your grandparents about the dangers of social engineering. This technique uses virtual means to psychologically manipulate victims, preying on emotional vulnerability while banking on anonymity to persuade your loved one to share sensitive information or perform certain actions they otherwise would not have.

Social engineering may involve, for instance, the impersonation of someone your grandparent knows, commonly a relative or a friend, who then asks for financial help to get out of a bind.

Conversely, online dating and catfishing scams have become more common. These cons involve a scammer who falsely represents themselves, taking advantage of an older adult’s desire for companionship to extort money from them.


Discuss how to respond to scams.


Continue reading for effective ways to respond to potential scams with your grandparents to ensure senior cybersecurity.


Phone calls


For phone calls, caution them against answering the phone for unfamiliar callers, especially for 1-800 numbers, and let the calls go to voicemail if their plan includes this feature. 

If they do answer and the caller asks for personal information almost immediately, advise them to hang up, block the number, and, depending on the degree of the offence, notify the authorities.

Some devices also have a screening functionality, which helps filter out spam calls.




Dissuade your loved one from responding to potentially fraudulent emails and tell them to mark them as spam or junk.

You should also ensure your loved one always uses a reputable email provider with built-in security features.


Social media


Consider telling your loved one to report any potential scams on social media as a violation. After that, they should block any suspicious users to prevent further communication.

For more information, check out our article on internet safety tips for seniors.


Establish security measures for accounts.


Here are some key preventative measures to ensure security against common senior internet scams.


Set up multi-factor authentication (MFA)


Encourage your grandparents to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on their devices and accounts. MFA is an added layer of security that requires a tried and true identification method, such as fingerprint biometric verification or a temporary access code sent to their phone or email.


Create strong passwords


Strong password practices will decrease the chances of a hacker gaining access to your grandparent’s accounts. Make sure they’re using unique and longer passwords for each platform, as reusing the same password can lead to the loss of multiple accounts.

When signing up for an account, most websites recommend (and sometimes require) that passwords include at least one:


  • Upper-case letter
  • Lower-case letter
  • Number
  • Symbol (such as @, $, &)


If you’re concerned about your loved one remembering all of their different passwords, it may help to physically write them down and keep them somewhere safe and out of sight. If you write down these passwords, make sure it’s only on physical paper, as recording passwords digitally can make them accessible to hackers.  


Secure all hardware devices and install software updates.


Ensure your loved one has set their devices to lock automatically and require a passcode to access.

It also helps to create a list of devices that they own. This way, they’ll know if they’ve lost a device that contains sensitive information (or if someone has stolen it).

Internet safety for seniors also means ensuring that they’re keeping all apps and software on their devices up to date. Updates may include vital security fixes, with outdated software creating risk for breaches.


Ensure the safety of your grandparents at a retirement living community.


Going over common senior internet scams and taking proper preventative measures will keep your loved one safe, but we can’t always be there to support our loved ones 24/7. Want to ensure holistic care for your grandparents? Consider Seasons Retirement Communities.

At Seasons Retirement Communities, residents can feel like they’re part of a larger community. Your loved one can lead a fulfilling life as staff members provide well-balanced meals and plan fun social activities to encourage engagement. 


Discover Life at Seasons. Book a Personal Visit Today.