Brands Push Senior Citizens to Evolve Digitally, Making them More Susceptible towards Cybercrime

Aparna Thakker, Founder & CEO, EmpowerjiHolding a Masters Degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the Southern Methodist University, Aparna is a startup enthusiast who has incepted two companies KoolKampus and Empowerji so far, and even completed the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp Class-5 New Ventures Partnership program from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Over the past five years, inclusion of technology in our lives has been significant and this has changed the way we do things. The convenience that technology offers is undeniable and the sooner we accept it, easier our lives will get. Though this change has been welcomed by the younger generations or the early adopters, senior citizens are taking time to get adapted to these changes and advancements. At the onset of these developments, most of the senior population find using mobile applications, web sites and devices daunting. However, gradually over time seniors citizens are warming up to the new technology. Today’s seniors are more aware as a consumer and they have strong purchasing power which makes them an attractive audience to brands and marketers.

Nowadays, we are witnessing commercials centring onseniors and their needs, where they promote them to use digital application payment apps, online food ordering services and online banking services etc. This shift is interesting and new, as earlier majority of the marketing efforts and capital were being spent to lure the below 40 population. As the brands recalibrate their focus to include seniors, the seniors are able to explore more of the online world. Although it is great that seniors are going online, they are still inexperienced with the dangers of cybercrime and online fraud lurking on the internet.

In order to maintain their pace with the advanced world India’s elderlies have come forward and tried adapting new technologies. However, they find it hard to operate and use digital devices and services flawlessly. Being new to many digital applications and devices have made the older generation prone to such crimes. Several mobile applications are targeting senior citizens making them eligible to operate new technology but also making them more open to cybercrime.

Seniors have regularly started use their email account to communicate but these accounts also attract a lot of spam including phishing emails. These seemingly genuine emails make the seniors more open to online scamming as they are not aware of such frauds used for extracting personal information from people who are oblivious about the consequences of
disclosing personal details on untrusted platforms.

Though there are many cybersecurity trainings for the business world, there is a lack of such education for the common people, especially for seniors

To keep themselves busy and occupied, senior citizens have started to use social media as it enhances their ability to connect, communicate and engage with family and friends. Unfortunately, social media platforms have also become a common place for scammers to target unsuspecting people. We have come across several fake profiles, friend requests from strangers and phishing attacks over these platforms. Many times senior citizens who are comparatively new to such services are not able to detect such online threats making them more susceptible towards cybercrime.

Mobile applications are definitely a boon for seniors for many reasons, be it for shopping, traveling or even ordering food to satisfy a craving; we have an app for everything! In fact, there is an App to teach you how to use other Apps! Mobile Applications advertising emphasizes on the convenience these apps could bring in to the daily routine life but they forget to throw light on shortcomings attached to it. In this new era online payments unavoidable, thus bringing into the forefront a horde of payment related frauds. The most common frauds are OTP fraud and data theft, both of which lead to fraudulent transactions.

Although e-Commerce has been around for some time, seniors have only started to use it now. e-Commerce can be considered as friendly and smart alternative to big malls. It has replaced tedious walks and long checkout lines with few clicks. It’s great that seniors can, from the comfort of their homes, scout through a wide inventory of apparel, books, electronics, and other products, and receive home delivery of their shopped goods. But one needs to apprise them about the fake online sites that boast of big discounts and special offers on products that are never delivered once the payment is made.

Online world has started a new trend of online jobs that require the person to complete an assignment from home and post it to the employer. This is a good source of supplemented income to many. But unfortunately, along with honest job vacancies, the scam vacancies are also widespread. Some seniors want to be financially independent and often look for work from home opportunities to add to their savings. Due to their inability to distinguish between an honest and fraud opportunity, they end-up completing the assignment but never get paid.

While the types of scams and frauds mentioned above are common to all online users, seniors are easier to target. Seniors are new to the online world and therefore unaware of the various scams which are out there, making them more susceptible to online fraud. Their inherent trusting nature may get them into trouble, making them easy targets. Just as our senior community is venturing out into the online world, time should be invested in creating awareness about cybersecurity. Though there are many cybersecurity trainings for the business world, there is a lack of such education for the common people, especially for seniors. Awareness programs on cyber fraud and best practices that can protect them from turning into a victim are much needed in this fast moving world. These kinds of programs have the potential to substantially reduce the cybercrime rate.