Patric Mercer had been attending computer classes for sheltered accommodation residents at KensingtonVision, an Online Centre located in Southport. Originally he had signed up to the classes for social reasons but soon found that his newfound knowledge came in very handy.
Part of the course included a module on online safety, Patric says: “We did the Online Safety course because we thought it was important - because a few of the people who were over 60 had been targeted from online fraudsters.”
Patric had been attending the classes for several weeks when he received a phone call on his landline from people claiming to work for BT. He says: “I was on my landline, and I was told that my router was in danger of being hacked and that they were going to switch it off within 24 hours until I answered some questions. Eventually, after one hour of being solidly on the phone, they hooked me up for internet banking. I didn’t know what I was doing. Luckily, I realised, because I’d been doing the fraud [course], that these were suspicious people.”
Through the knowledge gained from the Staying Safe in Your Digital World course, Patric was able to stay calm in a stressful situation. He explains: “I dealt with it quite well. At first, I got taken in by it, because they were very, very plausible, and they kept saying “You’re under attack.” But they had me on both landline and my mobile phone, and my computer. And they eventually took charge of the computer, I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to do that, for a short time, until I closed it down.”
Patric understands how people his age can be vulnerable in these types of situations: “People aged 60 and above are very prone to this sort of chicanery. They don’t know what’s going on. My daughter, she’s only 20-odd, she’d have put the phone down on them straight away. But I didn’t, I kept it going. At the back of my mind, there was a niggling doubt, you know. But I’m polite, you see, I’m quite nice. They took advantage of that. It won’t happen again.”
Despite his negative experience, Patric hasn’t been deterred to continue putting his new found digital skills to use. He says: “I’m happy [transacting online] at a low level. I can’t do eBay, I can’t do sophisticated things that my daughter can do. I haven’t learnt that skill to be able to do it, so what I do is get other people to do that if I want something online.”
When asked if he had any online safety advice for others, he concludes: “Don’t give your details out on the phone. Don’t give your bank details, always be vigilant that people will try, or could try, and disrupt your life when you’re not expecting it.”