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Cybersecurity Guides for Seniors

Printable Digital Literacy Guides to Keep Seniors Safe Online


Cybersecurity Essentials Sheet
  • Learn how to make strong passwords
  • Understand how to spot malicious pop-ups
View & Print
Common Email Scams Sheet
  • Learn to identify phishing attacks
  • Understand how to use email safely
View & Print
Basic Tech Support Sheet
  • Quick fixes for common Wi-Fi issues
  • Try these tricks before calling tech support
View & Print
How to use our printable cybersecurity guides:
  • Step 1:
    Click "View” to review each guide in PDF format before printing.
  • Step 2:
    Select File > Print to send the sheet to your home printer.
  • Step 3:
    Place the guides near the computer, or tape to the wall for easy reference.

Senior citizens are the highest risk demographic for digital security issues like identity theft and phishing. According to the FBI, seniors lose well over $2 Billion annually to hackers and scammers.

What can you do about it? To start, print out these one-sheet essential guides and keep them near the computer used by seniors in your family, so they can be easily referenced.

Each sheet covers an important topic like:

  • How to create strong passwords.
  • How to spot malicious pop-ups.
  • How to avoid common phishing attacks.

The guides are designed to be easy-to-read for those with vision problems, styled in large print and with high contrast for black and white printers. The most important reminders are broken down into simple bullet points, so they can be easily referenced by seniors when checking email, browsing the web, and etc.

THE FACTS: Cybercrime Targeting the Elderly

  • $2.9 Billion lost each year to scams targeting the elderly.
  • Seniors aged 70–79 had the highest average loss per crime.
  • As many as 67% of seniors active online have fallen victim to a phishing attack or scam.

Impact of Cybercrime on Senior Citizens

The United States Senate Special Committee on Aging estimates senior citizens are losing $2.9 billion each year due to scams targeting seniors

Cyber criminals target people over the age of 60 more than any other age group. Out of the 257,667 reported cyber crimes in 2018, people over the age of 60 were victim to more than 62,000 crimes (24%).

The average loss per scam reported for people 50 and up is about $30,150. According to the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

  • People ages 50-59 lost an average of $13,400
  • People ages 60-69 lost about $22,700
  • People ages 70-79 lost the most, an average $45,300
  • People 80 and older lost $39,200 on average.

According to a survey by Home Instead, a home caregiver network for senior citizens, 67 percent of seniors have been scammed online.

The FBI declares senior citizens, those born in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, are targeted because:

  • They’re more likely to have excellent credit and a hefty savings account.
  • They were raised to be polite and trusting.
  • They are less likely to report being scammed because they don’t want their loved ones thinking they are not mentally capable of managing their money.

Scams targeting seniors, also known as ‘elderly scams’, are often found on social media or in emails.


Some of the most common scams targeting seniors involve the scammer pretending to be someone else, like a family member or potential romantic partner.

  • A scammer will call or email pretending to be a grandchild and in need of immediate help.
  • Often demand money via services like Western Union, MoneyGram or prepaid cards.
  • Cyber criminals form fake intimate relationships via social media
  • They use the relationship to persuade gifts and money out of their victim.

How to recognize and prevent scams targeting the elderly

1. Stay in touch to avoid isolation.

Isolation is one of the main reasons why senior citizens fall for ‘Grandparent scams’ and ‘Sweethart/romance scams”. There’s no difference between senior citizens falling for those scams and younger generations being victim to catfishing and fake profiles.

2. Pay attention to their finances.

While it can be uncomfortable to discuss money with older relatives, it's essential that you check in to make sure they aren't concealing a crime for fear of being deemed "unfit to manage money" by family members. ‘Charity scams’ target senior citizens with a “nest egg," and it can take months to notice that a crime has occured.

3. Warn them about fake charities and sweepstakes.

Fake charities will send emails asking for donations to their cause but they’re usually trying to get bank information or to steal their victim’s identity.

Cyber criminals know the increasing costs of aging and also target senior citizens with ‘winning sweepstakes/lottery scams’, ‘insurance/medicare scams’ and ‘counterfeit prescription drugs’.

Scammers will also send emails claiming there’s a prize, usually money, waiting for their victim but they have to pay to receive it.

4. Provide tech support when needed.

The worst part about being a victim of cyber crime is being unable to fix the situation. Seniors fail to report cyber crimes because they don’t know how, and sometimes, they don’t know they’ve been scammed. Learning cybersecurity basics will help senior citizens protect themselves from falling victim to elderly crimes.

Most seniors struggle to use the internet or computer, and will need occasional help from a family member with routine tasks like updating passwords, canceling subscriptions, and etc.

Reporting elderly scams

If your loved ones are or have been victims of elderly scams, it’s important to have them report the crime as soon as possible. We recommend contacting:

  1. The AARP Fraud Watch Network Hotline (1-877-908-3360)
  2. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting
  3. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by visiting


The AARP Fraud Watch Network Hotline can help you figure out what steps to take to help your situation. Reporting to the FTC and IC3 is important because these government agencies, along with others, use statistics from reported crimes to guide how they allocate their resources to prevent further crimes.