This statewide initiative wants to stop the online abuse of seniors - Generocity Philly

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Oct. 11, 2017 12:55 pm

This statewide initiative wants to stop the online abuse of seniors

The effort, which involves educating older adults on how to stay safe online, is being led by a bunch of partners including Comcast, PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Mayor Jim Kenney, local TV stations and three Greater Philly-area nonprofits.

Online abuse is one of the major kinds of abuse targeted toward seniors.

(Photo via Flickr user prupert, used under a Creative Commons license)

When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) labels something a public health hazard, you know it must be bad.

Well, in an extensive report the CDC published last year, elder abuse has been categorized as one of those hazards and according to that report, it’s got some serious physical, psychological and financial consequences that will impact a greater number of our country’s population as the years go by.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2030, the population of senior citizens (people who are 65 years and older) will rise to 71 million throughout the country.

Fun fact: Pennsylvania has the fifth largest population of senior citizens among any state, with residents older than 65 years old making up 17.4 percent of the state’s total population, according to 2016 U.S. Census data.

One major kind of abuse toward older adults is financial abuse and as the National Council on Aging states, one major way it plays out is through internet fraud.

That’s why a new statewide initiative helmed by Comcast and its Internet Essentials program, PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Mayor Jim Kenney, TV stations NBC10 and Telemundo62 as well as three nonprofit partners aims to help educate older adults on how to stay safe online.

“With this partnership, we’re doubling our efforts to educate seniors on internet safety and do more to protect Pennsylvanians from the scams, fraud, identify theft and financial exploitation that is costing America’s seniors $3 billion every year,” Shapiro said at a senior expo event held in Mayfair last week, via a press release.

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The multi-tiered effort will include Shapiro’s Office of Public Engagement producing new educational content like videos and public service announcements, Comcast printing and distributing 10,000 free copies of a guide to online safety for senior citizens and NBC10 and Telemundo62 airing some educational videos that will touch on things like common online scams and protecting online privacy.

Comcast is also set to invest in three nonprofit partners — Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, Harrisburg’s Steelton Senior Center and Pittsburgh’s Vintage, Inc. — to help them start internet safety training classes for both older adults and low-income parents.

When all is said and done, the Office of Public Engagement hopes to double the number of older adults it educates about internet safety from around 25,000 last year to at least 50,000 in 2018.

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Albert Hong

Albert Hong is Generocity's contributing reporter. He started hanging around the Technically Media office as a summer intern for Technical.ly and eventually made his way to freelancing for both news sites. While technology and video games are two of his main interests, he's grown to love Philadelphia as a city and is always excited to hear someone else's story.

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