Biggest fear of seniors is being hacked

Dutch seniors are terrified that they are being hacked by cyber criminals. It is the biggest fear among this demographic. The fear of being hacked is even greater than the fear of health problems or dementia.

This is apparent from the Great Anxiety Survey of the elderly organization KBO-PCOB. 1,850 seniors took part in the study. The mean age of the participants was 76 years. The survey was conducted between January 25 and February 17, 2022.

Nine out of ten respondents say they are sometimes afraid. The research shows that women are slightly more anxious than men (92 percent versus 88 percent). Elderly people with health problems are more often afraid than healthy people (95 percent versus 88 percent).

Naturally, the researchers also asked about seniors’ worst fears. This resulted in a top ten. The fear of developing health problems, dementia, getting into a traffic accident, experiencing a home burglary and loneliness are all in the top ten.

However, the greatest fear of the elderly has nothing to do with their health or immediate environment. The Great Anxiety Survey shows that being hacked is number one. Elderly people are terrified that a hacker or cybercriminal will steal their savings, or that they will accidentally press the wrong link.

The fear of being hacked is recent. According to the KBO-PCOB, in more than half of seniors, this fear arose sometime in the past three years. Ingrid Rep, director of the elderly association, thinks this is because of the many stories of victims in the media. “These ‘modern’ fears are often fed by media coverage. This creates a sense of social insecurity and exposes the trepidation many seniors still have with computers and the Internet,” said Rep.

Rep comes up with a number of proposals to face the fear of hacking and other cyber threats. In her view, courses on internet use should be made more accessible. She also believes that cybercrime should be tackled more vigorously.

The research shows that most seniors do not or hardly allow themselves to be limited in their actions by their fears. Six in ten older people (59 percent) say they have no disabilities at all. Two-thirds (68 percent) say their anxiety has a mental effect. Then you have to think of worry, worry and stress or tensions. Three quarters of seniors say they deal with this by talking to people in their environment about the fear.

Government and banks take action against cyber criminals

Last year, the Dutch government launched an information campaign about the dangers of online fraud and cybercrime. This campaign -‘Don’t make it too easy for them’- was specifically aimed at seniors and consisted of various information videos and webinars. Presenter Catherine Keyl interviewed security experts such as Philip Dekkers (head of the Fraud and Planning Department at the Ministry of Justice and Security) and Dick Schoof (Secretary General at the Ministry of Justice and Security) about topics such as chat tricks, WhatsApp fraud and phishing.

Since the beginning of last year, banks have been a lot more lenient when older people become victims of scammers. In February, the major banks agreed to work with a common procedure. In this way, all victims of cyber criminals are treated equally, or so the thinking goes. If victims have done everything they can to get their money back and this yields nothing, banks hand over the name and address details of the scammer. With this information, the victims can start civil proceedings. Victims must be able to demonstrate that they have not been ‘grossly negligent’.

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