Alongside my role as Current Affairs editor at MouthLondon, I have another job. I work for a global technology company. You could probably hazard a guess as to which one it is and hit the nail on the head, but for a few reasons, I’m not going to name the company directly.

In my role, I interact with hundreds of people, of all ages, every day who are in the store to learn more, seek advice or have their problems resolved. I feel that I have spoken to enough people over my two and a half years working with the company to safely say…drumroll please – AS A SPECIES, WE ARE ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET.

Okay, so it’s not exactly the breakthrough of the century, but it’s true. Your phone is your portal to the Internet, a world of shopping, emailing, browsing, networking, and streaming. Instant information at the touch of a button and it would be a complete struggle to live without it.

…there is huge disparity when it comes to attitudes from either ends of the age spectrum…

People, young and old enjoy using technology whether that be smart phones, tablets or computers, but one thing that I have noticed whilst working in the technology industry is that there is huge disparity when it comes to attitudes from either ends of the age spectrum, particularly when it comes becoming the victim of a scam.

I don’t aim to offend anyone when I say that, for the most part, younger people are more cynical and sceptical when it comes to being screwed over on the Internet. It’s unfortunate that the same can’t be said about our older counterparts. Here’s some helpful, completely non-condescending advice we, as the younger generation, can pass on to our oldies.

…legitimate looking fake websites where you may part with your cash…

It’s obvious to those who know, but when Internet shopping, it’s vital that you make sure you see that little padlock before the web address. It means the website you’re visiting is legitimate and when you check out, your banking information is safe. Sometimes links in emails can take you to convincing, legitimate looking fake websites where you may part with your cash never to see it again.

In the last year, hundreds of elderly people have been scammed through fraudulent emails. ‘You’ve won £3000 courtesy of the National Lottery!’ Convincing emails using all the right logos, but not legitimate whatsoever. Whilst a younger person scrolling through their emails might just do an obligatory, eye roll and send the message straight to the trash folder, many elderly people have fallen into the trap and have responded, only to be told they must hand over credit card information before claiming their prize. Big no no.  

…it’s vital that you create passwords that have a mixture of numbers and letters…

Bit of a no brainer, but perhaps not to older parents or grandparents: your bank will never ask you to ‘confirm’ or ‘update’ your information by clicking a link. Simple as that. If you do happen to receive an email from someone claiming to be your bank asking for information, or you think you’ve given information to a fraudulent site, you should contact your bank immediately. A tip you can pass on is if you hover your mouse over any link, it will reveal the web address. Is it the exact web address of the site you are under the impression you are visiting? If not – it isn’t the real deal.

This week Adobe revealed the most common passwords chosen by their customers. Take a wild guess as to the ones that came out on top? That’s right, ‘123456’ and ‘Password’. Along with similarly guessable passwords like, ‘ACB123’ and ‘QWERTY’, it’s worrying how easy these passwords would be to crack.  Whether you’re young or old, it’s vital that you create passwords that have a mixture of numbers and letters. ‘Password1’ isn’t going to cut it. Let older members of your family know that it’s also wise to keep your passwords completely different from your email. For example, if your name is Matthew Harper, avoid passwords like ‘MHarper1’ or ‘MattHarper’.

…discourage any elderly relatives from doing what my own grandmother did…

So, what can we do to protect our mums, dads, grandparents, or elderly neighbours? It’s all about education. Talk about scams, fraudsters and about being sceptical when surfing the web. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If you aren’t convinced that an email is legitimate, don’t click on it. If you’re creating a password, make sure it’s complex enough. Finally and most importantly, discourage any elderly relatives from doing what my own grandmother did – sticking a handwritten list of all her passwords to the front of her iPad case. Probably not the best idea.

About The Author

I'm a graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University with an Honours Degree in Multimedia Journalism and the Current Affairs Editor here at MouthLondon. A Glasgow girl through and through with an accent people can rarely decipher.

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