The internet has helped to make modern life much easier for most people. It’s a great source of information and it allows us to communicate with people all over the world. However, for those who aren’t used to using the internet, it can be quite a daunting place. This article is part of our series on the internet for older people. Today we’re focusing on email safety and sharing some simple, practical tips. If your elderly loved ones are just starting to use the internet, why not share this guide with them?
Although our loved ones may not realise it, they will already have the skills needed to stay safe online. For example, they wouldn’t give card details to a stranger at their front door, so why give them to a stranger in an email?
Email Safety Tips for Older People
Emails have made communicating with family and friends much easier. They also allow you to stay up to date with the latest news and subscribe to useful services like newsletters. However, with these benefits come a few risks. There are fraudsters who use emails to try and obtain other people’s personal information. Luckily, most email accounts these days have built-in protection, so anything suspicious will be filtered into ‘Spam’ or ‘Junk’ folders automatically. Nevertheless, it is good to know how to recognise spam yourself and protect your personal information. Here are some email safety tips for spotting fraudulent emails.
Do you recognise the sender?
Your loved one will normally be able to tell if an email is spam just by looking at the email address it was sent from. However, some scams will disguise themselves very well and pose as reuptable companies or people you know.
- If the email is sent from a website or email address that you don’t recognise, it’s better to ignore it.
- If the sender’s address is very long, with lots of random numbers or letters, the email is likely to be spam.
Check the email subject
Many spam emails use similar tactics to try and persuade you to open them. Often, a spam email will claim to be offering you something for nothing. Alternatively, it might claim to have information about an online order that you have not placed. They will usually aim to get you to click a link within the email itself. These links might take you to dangerous web pages where fraudsters can access your card details, for example. Here are some common spam email subjects to look out for:
- Investment Opportunities.
- Requests for money.
- Order Details from unfamiliar companies.
- “Claim your prize!”
- Problem with your Account.
Look for spelling mistakes or bad grammar
Fraudulent emails often use sneaky spelling tricks to get past spam filters. If an email is poorly written with spelling or grammar mistakes, this could be a sign that it isn’t genuine.
- Spam can get past filters by misspelling words, for example: “Cliam your free prize.”
- Fraudulent website URLs will often contain slight spelling errors e.g. “Loyds Bank” rather than “Lloyds Bank”
- The text is usually very large to capture your attention.
Never open or download attachments
If you aren’t sure who the email is from, or you suspect it to be a scam, avoid clicking on any links or attachments in the email. These may contain computer viruses that can reveal your personal information to fraudsters.
- There may be a link saying “Check this out,” or a document called “Look what I found,” without any further explanation.
Avoid any emails requesting personal information
Some spam emails will claim to be from reputable organisations like your bank or HMRC. Here are some red flags to look out for:
- If an email asks for any personal information such as card details, it is most likely spam. Delete the email and block the sender.
- Be wary of emails that ask you to take urgent action – spammers may make false threats to “close your account” to create panic and get you to act without thinking.
What to do if you receive a suspicious email
The best email safety tip we can give you is to delete any emails that seem suspicious straight away. As a general rule, no bank or building society will never ask for personal information via email. If you want to be sure, you can always contact the bank by calling them directly using the phone number on any of your bank statements or their official website. Don’t panic if an email sounds threatening or urgent, take the time to read all of the information first before you act.
It can be helpful to Google the sender’s email address or the subject line. If it’s a scam, you’ll likely find that other people have received the same message. If it’s genuine, you might find the email address listed on a company’s official website. This can help you decide what to do next.
Email Safety and More Internet Safety Advice
That brings us to the end of our email safety guide. If you’ve found these tips helpful, why not share them with an older person who might benefit from learning more about the internet? To learn more about general internet safety, read our handy guide here.
Now you know how to stay safe on the internet, but what about staying safe at home? Have you considered one of our personal alarms? The Careline Alarm service helps thousands of older people to stay safe in their own homes up and down the UK. To find out more, you can contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give our Customer Service Team a call on 0800 101 3333.
Note: We updated this article on 26/02/21 to include the latest information.
Originally published 07/02/19.