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Seniors and crypto: Protecting Singapore’s silver generation

Hassan Ahmed
Hassan Ahmed • 4 min read
Seniors and crypto: Protecting Singapore’s silver generation
The fundamental principle of scam avoidance remains: if something seems too good to be true, it usually is, says Coinbase's Hassan Ahmed. Photo: Bloomberg
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Cyber scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making it more difficult for individuals to discern legitimate online interactions from fraudulent ones. Despite heightened media coverage and warnings from authorities, Singapore witnessed a staggering 49.6% increase in scam cases in 2023, totalling 50,376 cases compared to 33,669 in 2022.

Notably, young seniors and seniors comprised 27% of these victims, with 23.9% falling prey to investment scams.

Investment scams, particularly those involving cryptocurrencies, continue to be a significant threat to seniors. These scams often entice victims with promises of high returns on crypto investments. The rise of malware-enabled scams and the exploitation of social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp for fraudulent activities have exacerbated the issue.

The fundamental principle of scam avoidance remains: if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Hassan Ahmed is the country director of Coinbase, Singapore. Photo: Coinbase 

See also: Rise of Telegram-friendly blockchain spurs talk of crypto super-app

Here are some simple and proactive steps that investors can take to stay safe in today’s digital economy.

  • Research third-party merchants before making any transactions
    One of the very first steps that any crypto user should take is to thoroughly research the organisation or individual they are considering transferring assets, followed by verifying their authenticity. When it comes to cryptocurrency, it’s important to note that transactions are irreversible. If you send cryptocurrency, you cannot reverse it or stop the payment so you must be certain of the legitimacy of any third-party services and merchants before you make a crypto payment. Always verify before you trust, and seek advice from a trusted source.
     
  • Utilise password managers
    Another important step to protect your account is to use a password manager to store your passwords and other sensitive information securely. A password manager can help you generate strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts, which can be more difficult for hackers to guess or crack, and many password managers are protected by strong encryption. Plus, it can save you the hassle of trying to remember multiple passwords or writing them down on paper!
     
  • Install two-factor authentication
    Two-factor authentication also adds an extra layer of security, by requiring a code or token in addition to your password when logging in to your account. You can use an authenticator app, a security key, or a phone number to receive codes. This can help prevent unauthorised access to your account even if someone has your password. Many authenticator apps also take factors such as the user's device location into account before granting access to help verify your identity.
     
  • Watch out for suspicious activity on your account 
    It's good practice to check your financial accounts for any suspicious activity regularly. If you notice any unusual transactions or charges, notify your provider, bank or credit card company immediately. This can help them take action to prevent further fraud and investigate the issue.
     
  • Never share login details or account access 
    A legitimate crypto platform or financial services provider should never, under any circumstances, ask you for your account login information; request remote access to your device; or request that you send funds to an external wallet address. There has been a significant rise in new scamming techniques such as using official phone numbers, email addresses and websites of legitimate organisations. If you get a call or text claiming to be from the company that you do business with, hang up and contact the company using contact details from a trusted source.
     
  • Stay informed on new crypto scams
    There are a range of helpful online resources that can help you stay informed including scamalert.sg and official government resources and helplines. Companies like Coinbase also provide information on crypto and investment scams and publish different resources on how to avoid scams and stay safe online.

It's crucial to recognise that seniors are not the only demographic affected by crypto scams; these fraudulent schemes impact people of all ages. The online world is increasingly woven into our everyday lives and as Singaporeans engage more in activities like shopping and investing, they must take proactive steps to understand the associated risks and protect their personal and financial information.

See also: Bitcoin developers are touting ‘programmability’ as the catalyst for the next rally

It’s important to be aware, and vigilant and to reach out for support so that you can stay safe and take advantage of the opportunities in today’s digital economy.

Hassan Ahmed is the country director of Coinbase, Singapore. Coinbase is a Nasdaq-listed cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2012. 

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