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AFP urges seniors to learn their cyber ABCs | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

Editor’s note: Audio grabs and cyber education videos are available via Hightail

The AFP is encouraging grandchildren of all ages to help seniors learn their ABCs in a bid to stay safe online.

Working with National Seniors Australia during Cyber Awareness Month in October, the AFP will provide tips to help support cyber safety, especially for generations that are not as comfortable in the digital world.

It comes as some older Australians say they are worried about using technology because they fear they will be scammed.

To keep it simple, the AFP is urging seniors and all Australians to learn their cyber ABCs:

  • Avoid clicking on links sent in unsolicited email or text;
  • Block calls on mobile devices from suspected scammers; and,
  • Call your financial institution immediately if you identify a suspicious transaction or you believe your bank account has been targeted by cyber criminals.

While the AFP has undertaken a number of cyber crime operations in the past few months, arresting alleged offenders and returning money to Australians who have been scammed, it is also focused on protecting Australians from cyber criminals.

The AFP will also share with National Seniors Australia new 90 second videos that explain how the public can stay a step ahead of cyber criminals. The videos will be posted on National Seniors Australia website

While many older Australians are cyber and digitally aware, others may need extra help to stay cyber safe.

The AFP will use Cyber Awareness Month and seniors’ week celebrations to provide extra education for those less digitally savvy in the community.

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Cyber Command Paula Hudson said some of the best information and tips could come from grandchildren or younger family or friends who have grown up with technology.

“Grandchildren – whether they are 20 or 40 years old – can be one of the greatest lines of defence for older generations when it comes to the online world.

“Today, we are asking Australians to have conversations with grandparents or parents about simple things they can do to protect themselves.

“One example could be showing seniors how to block a scam call on an iPhone. If you received a phone call or a text message that is clearly a scam – such as those claiming to be from a financial institution, utility company or a service you do not use – we advise you hang-up immediately.

“We also advise people to block the number. On an iPhone, that can be done by going to recent calls, pressing the information symbol, and then scrolling down to ‘block’.

“And the videos we have released are only 90 seconds long. It would be great if grandkids could watch the videos with their nan, and pop, nonno or nonna, or baba or deda. It also gives an opportunity for younger generations to brush up on their knowledge.

“What we have found in the past is that some older Australians who have become the victim of cybercrime become embarrassed and blame themselves. Often they do not tell anyone and that’s what we need to change.

“We do not want any victim of crime to be ashamed. These tips and videos will hopefully empower all generations to stay cyber safe because any one at any age can be targeted by cybercrime.

“This is also a good reminder for all Australians of any age to be mindful of their cyber security – because cyber criminals do not discriminate by age. We encourage all ages to watch the videos.”

National Seniors Australia Chief Operating Officer Chris Grice said findings from National Seniors’ own research showed that older people who were less familiar with digital technology were most likely to report being scammed.[1]

“Fear of scamming prevents many from engaging online,’’ Mr Grice said.

“As one 70-year-old commented, ‘There are so many scams and hackers on digital services I would feel unsafe using one to do personal business.’ [2]

“With the removal of cheques and the transition towards a cashless society, seniors have no choice but to transact online exposing them to potential cybercrimes. 

“In collaboration with the AFP, National Seniors Australia aims to empower seniors with the knowledge, tools and confidence they need to stay safe in the digital world.”

“We encourage seniors to take advantage of the valuable resources offered by the AFP and other government agencies and engage in conversations with trusted family members to help them online.

“As a community, we need to ensure that older Australians can participate online, and be safe doing so.”

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[1] Maccora, J., Rees, K., Hosking, D. & McCallum, J. (2019) Senior Surfers: Diverse levels of digital literacy among older Australians. Brisbane: National Seniors Australia

[2] Orthia L, Maccora J, McCallum J. (2022) “I am trying to keep up to date…but it is moving so fast”: Older Australians’ Digital Engagement in Turbulent Times. Canberra: National Seniors Australia


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