USC study to help older victims of scams - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC study to help older victims of scams

21 Sep 2017

A USC study is looking for ways to help restore the confidence and trust of older Australians in online technology if they become victims of scams that target personal information.

PhD student Judy Watson aims to interview people aged 55 years and over who have had their identity stolen and would like to help others cope with similar situations.

“The theft of personal information from scams is increasingly common and it is important to gain deeper understanding of how this problem influences the intentions of older adults to continue to use online platforms,” Judy said.

“The information we collect will be used to develop recommendations to help reduce the incidence of identity theft, lessen its impact, build resilience and restore people’s trust.”

She said examples of scams that can lead to identity theft included romance scams, telephone scams and phishing emails.

Judy is a researcher with USC’s Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems and teaches informatics and software engineering to USC students.

She is conducting the study under the supervision of USC Associate Professor of Business Information Systems Don Kerr, Director of USC’s Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems Professor Paul Salmon and USC Professor of Cybersecurity David Lacey.

The study is supported by Australia and New Zealand’s National Identity and Cyber Support Service IDCARE, which supports individuals who have experienced identity theft and misuse and builds community resilience through prevention and raising awareness. USC’s Professor Lacey is managing director of IDCARE.

Judy said her interest in identity theft came from her background in teaching people of all ages how to use computers and the internet, particularly those like her, who have not grown up using online technology.

“Older Australians are required to become more and more digitally engaged, however as the amount of identity theft grows, there is evidence to suggest they are less happy about using online environments.

“People who experience these crimes can feel violated and vulnerable. They may prefer to keep it to themselves, but then it becomes one of those hidden problems.

“I hope my research will encourage people to talk about the issue and help them find ways to recover.”

Judy expects to complete her research by early 2019. People interested in taking part in the confidential study can email

Clare McKay

Judy Watson, a researcher with USC’s Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems.

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