Tips to help the elderly stay safe online
30 Apr 2020

The elderly are among the groups being hit the hardest by lockdown – most are isolated from friends, family and even basic necessities, including groceries and cash.

Lisa Scott, Senior Director at PayPal UK, has created six tips to help older Brits get set up online, so that they can stay safe and entertained at home during isolation.
 

  1. Grocery items and ready-made meals are just a click away. Luckily there are endless options for shopping online, from the comfort of your home. Create a shopping list with your favourite foods and the products that you use day-to-day. Then type the name of a supermarket into your search engine and you will then see an option to shop online. Most supermarkets are offering priority services for elderly shoppers to make sure that you can purchase the products you need.

    Lots of small local businesses are quickly adding or expanding delivery services and many will not have the same pressure on demand. Visit the websites of your favourite local restaurants, cafes and grocery stores to find out what they are offering via delivery. If you don’t have a delivery account, such as Uber Eats, download the app from the app store on your phone. Many of your local favourites will also be delivering, you can call them to find out more details.
     
  2. Set up online bill payments. Although you might usually enjoy getting out and about, right now it is more important than ever to stay at home. You’ll find that you can still tick off the same items from your to-do list by going online – even paying your bills. Search for your bank online and see if you can set up digital bill payments, so you don’t need to go to the post office or bank. If you can’t figure out how to do it, you can call customer service and ask them to walk you through it.
     
  3. Stay safe online. Set up an account with an online payment platform, such as PayPal or others, that will allow you to pay online without directly sharing your credit card details over the internet with businesses. This will also save you from having to enter in long strings of numbers each time you make a purchase. 

    PayPal will also let you easily transfer money to family and friends if you need to reimburse them for any physical shopping that your relatives may be doing for you. Head to the PayPal website to set up your account. If it’s proving difficult, give your children or grandchildren a call – they will likely have a similar payment platform set up already.

    PayPal goes great lengths to protect its customers, but there are still a few, simple precautions we should all take to avoids scams. Our top tips to avoid getting caught out include:
  • Log into PayPal: If you receive a suspicious email, don’t act on the message or click on any links. Instead, open your browser, log into PayPal and check for any new activity. PayPal will also email or notify you in the app if you’ve received any payments.
  • Check the basics: Look out for misspellings and grammatical errors, which can be a tell-tale sign of a scam.
  • Verify an email’s authenticity: Phishing scams will often mimic the look and feel of PayPal emails, and ask you for sensitive information – something that real PayPal emails will never do.
  • How to spot the difference: A PayPal email will address you by your first and last name, or your business name, and we will never ask you for your full password, bank account, or credit card details in a message.
  • Avoid following links: If you receive an email you think is suspicious, do not click on any links or download any attachments. You can check where a link is going before you click on it by hovering over it – does it look legitimate?
  • Keep tabs on your information: Limit the number of places where you store your payment information online by using a secure digital wallet like PayPal. If you are making a purchase online, consider using a protected payment method such as PayPal. If your purchase doesn’t arrive or match the product description, you can be reimbursed through PayPal Buyer Protection which is valid for 180 days from the date of purchase, Terms and Conditions apply.
  • Easiest of all, use common sense: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is! Stay clear of exceptional deals or anything that is significantly reduced in price from what you would expect to pay.
  1. Take the time to set yourself up with ‘isol-tainment’. It’s important to keep yourself occupied and entertained while you’re staying inside.
    • With libraries now closed, why not visit the online version of your favourite bookstore to buy a book? Now is the perfect time to get stuck into a great read. You can create an account on Waterstones and order books or audiobooks online to be delivered to your home.  
    • There’s no better time to explore new movies and television shows – if you don’t already have a streaming service such as Netflix, you can download one by heading to the website. Once you’ve created an account, you can download the app and start watching on your TV, desktop computer or on a device e.g. an iPad or smartphone.
    • Or tune into a podcast. If you have a smartphone, look for the podcast app – there’s an endless array of topics for you to choose from.
  1. Keep in touch. If you have a smartphone or laptop, video calls are a great way to stay in touch. If not, a call to your friend’s or family member’s landline is just as effective. As your ability to see your friends and family is limited at this time, one of the most important things you can do is check in regularly with your loved ones to see how they are doing.
  1. Ask for help with these tips if needed. If any of the above tips seem outside your online comfort zone, don’t be afraid to reach out to a tech savvy family member, friend or neighbour to provide some real-time support over the phone.  Age UK also has lots of helpful advice.

More simple steps on protecting your account from scammers can be found here.

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