Seniors have long been stereotyped as being resistant to change in general and, in recent years, to internet technology in specific. While there may be some truth to this, as the web grows more integrated into every corner of our lives, older Americans are becoming more comfortable with the digital revolution and its countless advantages.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Nowhere is this shift more apparent—or potentially beneficial—than in the realm of online banking. The image of Grandpa holing up his savings in a mattress is being chased away by a growing sector of web-savvy seniors no longer intimidated by computer technology.
About 15% of current consumers of internet banking fall within the 55 and over demographic, and as long as seniors are using the web in the first place, their use of computerized banking services is little different from twenty-somethings.
Still, some seniors are reluctant to reap the many conveniences of paperless, wireless financial transactions. If this describes a Baby Boomer you may know, here are some easy ways to sell them on the positives of modern banking.
Online Banking Makes Life Easier — Especially for Seniors
Older consumers may still see internet money management as unnecessary and overly complicated, rather than the time-saving innovation that it is. By bringing home a few of these clear advantages to your retired friend or loved one, you’ll be helping them simplify their golden years in ways they may not expect.
● Online banking delivers greater control. With real-time transaction records, web banking gets rid of unwanted surprises. In fact, by checking up-to-the-minute pending transactions, seniors might prevent costly overdraft fees before they are processed.
● Paying bills requires minimal work. Keeping track of numerous regular due dates can be an annoyance or even a challenge to older customers. With automated bill-pay functions, seniors have one less thing to manage.
● Ongoing debits can usually be arranged for predictable dates, a blessing for the many Boomers on a strict fixed income.
● Simply put, bypassing brick-and-mortar operations is physically easier. Even if a senior is in good health, the elderly can be challenged in getting around for a number of reasons. Eliminating a bus ride into town or an arduous walk on a stroller will be music to many seniors’ ears.
● Online banking is as green as it gets. Senior citizens are just as environmentally conscious as anyone, so preventing all that paper waste is especially appealing. For older people eager to live less cluttered lives, elimination of hard copies is doubly attractive.
Image Courtesy of 401 (K) 2013/Flickr.com
Using Mobile or Online Banking Is Not A Security Risk
Even when seniors recognize the many ways that new technology makes financing less complicated, they still may be wary of the very real dangers of fraud and identity theft. The following protocols are wise for consumers of all ages, but might be especially worth pointing out to seniors just getting used to modern security measures.
● Avoid obvious passwords and security questions. From birthdays to grandchildren’s names, sentimental passwords and other potentially guessable checkpoints are a liability. Encourage passwords that even close friends could never guess.
● Monitor all activity on a regular basis. Most online transaction records clearly provide vendor names, often with contact numbers into the bargain. With just a little vigilance, suspicious activity can be easily detected, and banks’ fraud departments are almost always able to expunge bogus charges expediently.
● Make sure banking is performed at a secure location. Seniors may not know that not all internet locations are protected, so discourage logging in from non-secure hotspots. Bringing them up to speed on firewalls and anti-spyware devices won’t hurt either.
● Warn against third-party ID requests. While almost no online provider will ever request usernames or passwords offsite, such fraudulent requests can appear alarmingly legitimate. Without causing paranoia, be sure to educate seniors on how phishing works—and how to avoid it.
With just a little bit of education and reassurance, older bankers can be as efficient at state-of-the-art money management as anyone…and spend more time on the things that truly matter.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Los Angeles. She has worked with a variety of LA senior services, using her background in online marketing to help seniors transition from traditional to online banking.