Fun Friday: Grandparents, Computers and Scams (A True Story)

"Grandpa And Grand Kids" by deb spoons via

The other day I called home to chat with my family. I know that my grandfather is a busy man and even at his age he gets around and keeps himself occupied. (Maybe that's where I get my energy from.)

My 'Poppy' also loves his electronics. (I did not get that from him.)

When I was growing up, I can't remember a time when there wasn't a new T.V. in the house. Later on as a young adult, I don't ever remember Poppy going without cars that had the latest gadgets, a VCR, a DVD player, or telephones. To my surprise, he even got a cell phone! Some grandparents do actually like to keep up with the times and technology.

Now we have computers, Internet, email and more. With all these comes dangers like: Phishing, Hackers, Spam and Scams. They arrive in the form of text messages, fancy emails, fake websites and even phone calls. On any given day, you and I might recognize them immediately, but our elders may not.

So back to my phone call. As I was talking to my aunt, she began telling me about a call Poppy received the other day. I think that my aunt and uncle might have been somewhere within earshot so were able to hear at least some of this conversation.

Initially, they heard my grandfather talking to the caller, saying, 'yes', 'yes', 'okay'.
Then, a few minutes later they heard my grandfather repeat himself, saying, 'No. I don't see anything…Then, 'No, I still don't see anything'.
Then my grandfather said something like, 'Okay' and 'Yes, I tried that'.

Then 'No, I still don't see anything'.

After a few more brief silences, and my Poppy replying similarly, he asked the person on the other end of the phone what their name was. After the man answered, my grandfather asked him, 'So, Jimmy... how is your day going young man?'.

Suddenly...the caller hung up.

It seems 'Jimmy' was pretending my grandfather's computer had a virus and that he wanted to help fix it. He asked to remote in, gave my grandfather bogus numbers to type in and then when 'nothing worked' (OBVIOUSLY) he apologized 'for not being able to rid my grandfather of his computer virus' and asked for his Social Security Number….

Funny part? 

Poppy doesn't have a computer…

While this situation may have turned out well, it doesn't always.

So our Fun Friday reminder is: Educate elders on computer, phone and technology safety

  1. Don't click on links from people you don't know
  2. Know how to read an email to make sure it's genuinely from the sender (someone you know) and that it's not been hacked by someone (Yahoo is notorious for hacks). Teach them to read subject lines and preview first line WITHOUT opening the email). If in doubt, tell them to open up a fresh compose-email window and email their friend to ask if they just sent you a link to Viagra- chances are they will will say no.
  3. Don't download stuff from sites on the internet you don't trust (teach them how to verify sites)
  4. Tell them to be careful when pulling up memorized/favorite sites because some hackers pose as the real site and gather passwords this way.
  5. Tell them, that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should they ever give out their SSN to anyone.
  6. Don't text and drive.
  7. Don't reply to text spam.
  8. If they still don't understand (or believe you), give them some homework.
Doesn't this sort of remind you of the 'Don't talk to strangers' spiel we got as children?


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