Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles on how we can help our aging parents make the most of digital life; the ways we can help them manage their finances and health online, and how they can use the internet. to keep in touch with your friends and family, all safely and easily.
Online banking is for everyone. Or at least it should be.
The benefits of online banking are many for our moms, dads and grandparents, just like for us. Seniors can deposit checks, pay bills, transfer money to and from investments, and more, all without having to leave home. However, our parents and the seniors in our lives may face a few obstacles that hold them back. As a son, daughter, or loved one, there are things you can do to help them overcome these barriers so they can enjoy the convenience of online banking, safely.
What do some of these barriers look like?
- Familiarity, for starters.Their level of comfort with the Internet may simply not be as high as ours. (After all, many of us grew up with it to some degree.) The web layouts, transactional flows, and basic Internet browsing acumen we all take for granted may still feel alien to them.
- Another obstacle is trust.Many of our parents simply know and have learned to trust in-person and face-to-face interactions, especially in a bank. Simply put, they can trust the cashier behind the window much more than the web page in the browser.
At the same time, the digital world continues to evolve rapidly, especially with regard to online banking. Between 2018 and 2022, the number of people in the United States using online banking has steadily increased to more than 65%and more than three-quarters of Americans used a mobile device the last time they checked their balance. And from 2020, nearly two billion people worldwide have used online bankinga number that is only increasing.
This rise of online banking has implications for the seniors in our lives. Even if they are not active in online banking themselves, their financial information is part of this digital mix. The banks and financial institutions where they keep their savings and funds are connected and accessible digitally. At a minimum, this means they need to take steps to protect themselves and their finances. Yet the advantage here is that we can help them do so much more than that – we can actually help them take advantage of online banking and reap its benefits.
Setting up online banking for mom and dad – start with the basics
Depending on their comfort level, you might want to start by brushing up on some basic digital knowledge before diving straight into online banking. As mentioned above, there is so much on the internet that we take for granted, and the seniors in your life can benefit from a little 101 level introduction to the internet.
When you’re both confident that their comfort level with the internet is in the right place, you can take the next step by making sure mom and dad have solid online protection in place. This is square one before going online, especially when doing online banking. Some basic digital hygiene will help protect their banking and financial operations. Plus, it will also help protect the other things they do online.
The following quick list is a great way to make them much safer:
1) Update their software
This includes the operating system of their computers, smartphones and tablets, as well as the applications on them. Many updates include security upgrades and fixes that make it harder for hackers to launch an attack.
Computers, smartphones and tablets will have a way to lock them using a PIN, password, fingerprint or face of the owner. Take advantage of this protection, which is especially important if this device is lost or stolen.
3) Learn more about tracking and erasing smartphones
This is important if they lose their smartphone or think it has been stolen. Ask them to enable device tracking so they can locate their phone or even wipe its data and content remotely if they need to. Apple provides iOS users with a step-by-step guide to remotely wipe devicesandGoogle also offers a guide for Android users.
4) Use online protection software
Protect your devices with comprehensive online protection softwaredefend them against the latest attacks of viruses, malware, spyware and ransomware and help them avoid them phishing attacks and malicious websitesdesigned to steal personal and financial information. Also, make sure they offer a password manager like ours, which can create and store strong, unique passwords for each of their accounts, easing the burden on mom and dad remembering them. .
5) Ask about an identity protection service
With all personally identifiable information (PII) that we create simply by using the internet, tracking and monitoring your PII is essential to prevent fraud and identity theft. The same is true for mom and dad. Solid identity theft protectionwill provide cyber surveillance capable of detecting the misuse of your PII. Our identity protection service goes even further in this protectionif misfortune occurs with $1 million coverage for attorney fees, travel expenses, lost wages, etc.
Proceed step by step
With their more secure devices and PII, you can move on to the banking part itself. Although there are so many things you can do with online banking, it’s a good idea to take things one step at a time. Some seniors don’t know how to sign up for online banking with their financial institution, so you can start there. Walk them through the setup process (using that strong, unique password as mentioned above) and just get them started.
From there, they can familiarize themselves with the layout of the banking site or app they are using. A simple task like checking account balances is a great way to do this. After their level of comfort with the root of the tales site or app, you can move on to other things they can do online, like pay bills online, deposit a paper check with their phone, and review their readings for any discrepancies.
Be ready to lend an ear and a helping hand
Another thing that can help put your loved ones at ease is letting them know you’re there to help. Questions will inevitably come up, and it will be a great comfort for them to know that you are there to provide them with a quick answer when needed.
For example, let’s talk about spotting any discrepancies in their statements. Some account entries might seem a bit odd because a company’s name doesn’t always match how itappears on a bank or credit card statement. This can lead to questions about the purchase – was it something they did? Is this a legitimate charge? These are answers you can help them find.
Along the same lines, online banking offers our parents a powerful tool against identity theft and fraud. By carefully reviewing account statements, they can potentially spot fictitious charges and purchases before they become a bigger and more costly problem. (For a good introduction to the subject, read and share this article which discusses identity theft and fraud and steps to prevent them.)
Call on the experts
Several different banks offer resources specifically for senior bankers. Offers will of course vary from bank to bank, but you may find that they offer videos and information on their websites designed to make online banking easier. Likewise, they may offer special services that mom and dad may be entitled to. All in all, feel free to lean on their bank for help when needed. They are there to help you.
You can also consult independent resources, such as the AARPand “Loan, loan, bank‘, both of which provide a wealth of online banking videos and articles.
Helping mom and dad get the most out of online banking
As children, grandchildren, and younger loved ones, we can do a lot to help the seniors in our lives enjoy online banking with confidence. Bolstering their security, getting them started easily, and then being there to answer questions can help them overcome the familiarity and trust barriers they face.
Just as they guided you through the ins and outs of life, here’s a chance to return the favor. Plus, it’s yet another way to spend time together, whether in person or over the phone. And it’s a good thing.