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First-of-its-kind charity launches to support older victims of cybercrime

After 10 years of distressed phone calls, the tech-xperts behind Geekify are committed to the launch of a new cyber charity.

<p>Reporting scams provides critical intelligence for the National Anti-scam Centre and its partners to detect and disrupt scam activities. [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

Reporting scams provides critical intelligence for the National Anti-scam Centre and its partners to detect and disrupt scam activities. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • Kick-ass Seniors has launched to support individuals aged 65 and over who have been or may become victims of cybercrime
  • In 2023, Australians reported over 601,000 scams, with reported losses of over $2.74 billion according to the National Anti-scam Centre
  • The National Anti-scam Centre was launched in July 2023

 

In 2023, over 76,000 seniors lost more than $82 million through online scams. Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kick-ass Seniors Wahid Siddique said the new charity was designed with this in mind.

“Whether it’s their last $50 or $50,000, the impact of this type of financial loss, the sense of humiliation and embarrassment, leave our seniors feeling a great sense of shame [sic] — this is why we created Kick-ass Seniors,” he said.

Kick-ass Seniors’ free services will include a helpline when a cybercrime is detected, a first-response call involving a computer technician conducting a face-to-face call with the client and ongoing support programs.

The support programs will include online workshops, community forums and guidance through the ‘Kick-ass’ app. The app is listed as ‘coming soon’ to Google Play and the Apple Store online, although Mr Siddique had estimated it would be available at the end of the year.

Ten years ago, Wahid started his computer repair business — Geekify — where technicians received calls from across Australia; many of those seeking support were seniors who were scammed and needed support.

“I mean, I can give you an example where one customer lost 35 grand,” he recounted.

“She was buying the Apple gift cards, scratching those gift cards and sending; she spent 35 grand on that, I’m talking about [sic] this was about four or five years ago.

“Put it this way: I still get goosebumps, because I was one of the guys who was attending that call and I could not reinstate her.

“[…] You can now look at it as why we started Kick-ass. Now, somebody lost 35 grand [and] you’re going to charge them again? It doesn’t make sense.”

Along with Mr Siddique, a team of tech experts, senior care advocates and non-profit leaders from Geeks CRS — a fast-growing micro-tech service provider in Australia — hope to empower and protect seniors in the digital age through technological solutions.

Lynne Parnell, an experienced advocate in the care sector, has assisted the team with getting the charity started and raising funds for future projects.

“I’ve just been supporting the team until it gets to a point where we can generate donations to provide all the services that we’d like to […] and as we all know with [artificial intelligence] and the development of other types of technology, we can’t afford to let seniors be left behind,” she said.

“We’re not going to stop using technology, so we’ve got to build confidence in everybody.”

The non-profit collective said they were committed to providing seniors with the knowledge, tools and support they need to navigate the digital landscape safely; maintaining their independence and enjoying a secure online experience.

To visit the Kick-ass Seniors website or make a donation to support the cause, please visit kass.org.au. To call the support hotline, please dial 1300 912 176 for assistance between 8am – 6pm AEST.

Similarly, last year, the National Anti-scam Centre was established to counter the growing number of people in Australia scammed by bad actors.

Together, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission worked closely with 43 organisations, including representatives from government, law enforcement, banks, digital currency exchanges, telecommunication providers and digital platforms to combat scammers.

In November, ASIC launched the investor alert list, which has since been viewed over 91,000 times, replacing the previous ‘Companies You Should Not Deal With’ list on ASIC’s Moneysmart website.

Learn more about how to get help through scamwatch.gov.au. Follow Scamwatch on X/Twitter or subscribe to radar alerts.

For crisis support to help with emotional distress about scams, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or access support via the online chat between 7pm and midnight.

Beyond Blue also provides support for anxiety and depression by phone at 1300 22 4636 or online at Beyond Blue.

 

How do you deal with scam texts and calls? Let the team at Talking Aged Care know and subscribe to the newsletter for more information.

 

Related content:

Being wary of scams and sharing your personal information

The role of advocacy in aged care

What do I do if I have a complaint about my care?

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