HONOLULU (KHON2) — Sophia Chan remembers the incident well. She was buying property and was nearing the end of the real estate and financial process.
“So that day while I was talking, to that financial person, and have her transfer the money to escrow, I had my phone on and my computer on,” Chan, a Honolulu resident.
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Sophia got another call at the same time, from who she thought was her credit card company. Chan said the caller asked if she just made a deposit.
“And at that moment, I just wanted to get rid of him, so I can concentrate on my computer, I said oh yes, then I thought oh no, I shouldn’t have said anything,” said Sophia.
Sophia said the caller was a scammer, who was able to access her information because of a virus on her computer. She later realized there was a $900 charge on her account she never authorized. Fortunately, she didn’t have to pay. But it prompted her eldest grandchild Esther Chan to take action.
“What we do is we try to equip seniors with the knowledge they need to protect themselves against cyber scams,” said Esther.
The 16-year-old Punahou junior created Cyber Safe Seniors. She and other teenagers go to different senior centers and living facilities to teach kupuna about cybersecurity.
“Basically covering the basics of cyber security knowledge so for example how to recognize email scams and protect themselves against those sorts of things,” said Esther.
They show kupuna what to do if they get a suspicious phone call.
“Because all their phones are different right? At least they showed them how because being elderly, sometimes you don’t know how to maneuver all the new things on the phone,” said Sophia.
There’s also a cybersecurity course and website that kupuna can check out.
“I was so proud of her, really, never imagined that she could do something like this,” said Sophia.
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If you’d like to check out the free CyberSafety 101 course or get more information, click here.