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Perceived Privacy Risk

Privacy risks encompass fears around perceptions of privacy, security, and identity-theft. It is exhibited through a lack of confidence in the online environment and a reluctance to share anything private through digital means. This risk includes concerns about data security, scams and the fear of being tracked online as well as accidently signing up to subscriptions and automatic monthly payments that can be confusing.

For Margarete, these perceptions of risk manifest in the following ways:

Example 1
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“I fear buying ICT related products online without really understanding what I paid for, and I won’t be able to cancel my online subscriptions (e.g., magazine, antivirus service) if I need to.”

Example 1

This risk is where the person fears buying ICT related products and then if they want to cancel, they are afraid they will be unable to. For instance, Margarete’s experience with unwittingly subscribing to Amazon Prime and not knowing how to cancel has left her fearful of subscribing to anything online. She is afraid of visiting any site with a subscription service in case she accidentally signs-up for another service she cannot get out of herself.

Example 2
“I feel there is a high level of risk doing transactions online (e.g., banking, shopping) and I’m worried that people might be able to access my account or credit card information.”
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Example 2

Privacy risks may be experienced as a fear of not being able to make online transactions such as banking or shopping due to the concern that others will be able to access their credit card details. For instance, Margarete has  found some books she would like to buy, but she doesn’t recognise the online retailer. She is afraid of buying them as she is does not trust that her private information is kept private.


Can you relate to those example above?  Go to strategies to learn about how Margarete can address these issues.

Individual Strategies for Managing Privacy Risk

Strategy Illustration 6


Banking. Ask the manager at your local branch to help you download the app and go into your account. In case of doubt, ask for assistance before moving further.


Laptop camera. Increase your privacy online by turning the camera off or putting a sticky note over the camera.


Take notes. Remember to take notes when learning something new so you can refer to them the next time you want to do online banking or purchase something.


Personal information. Avoid providing personal information by email or on the phone, if you do not know who is asking for the information or if you are contacted without prior knowledge. Do not share your passwords or give your date of birth.


Beware of unknown emails. If you are suspicious about an email you receive, contact the sender yourself. For example, if it is a business, check with them if the message you received is genuine.


Passwords. Use highly secure passwords and frequently change your passwords. You can use a password book (e.g., a traditional notebook or encrypted excel file) to keep track of your passwords. Other options are keychain or password manager. Keep your password book secured, updated, and consider having a backup of your password book.


When scammed. Do not feel embarrassed if you are being scammed. It is very common. Be careful online and keep updating with news on scams from or Subscribe to scam alerts such as Scamwatch Radar to help you recognise and avoid scams.


Social media. Be careful if you are going to share personal information on social media. If you are in doubt, do not post it

Relational Strategies for Managing Privacy Risk

Strategy Illustration 5


Partner involvement. Your partner can be an ally on the journey to keeping your life private and secure. Try to engage in learning tasks together as one can support the other in their issues about privacy and security. Agree to consult each other before moving forward on a risky movement online.


Seek assistance. Ask your partner, friends and/or family members to help you to make your accounts safe and secure. Some tasks happen only once (e.g., install an anti-virus, install a password manager). Whereas other tasks are common and repetitive (e.g., signing in your email; using double authentication; updating your system). Ask family or friends to go slowly, explain it step by step and be patient with you. Take notes so you can practise on your own.


Social media. Consider asking knowledgeable friends, family members or your savvy partner to explain and review your social media privacy setting with you. Make sure that your family members/friends are supportive and have plenty of time and patience for you.


Courses. Join ICT courses for beginners developed for older adults. Ask for classes that discuss scams, privacy and security issues Discuss your issues with tutors and learning buddies.


Be wary. If you are suspicious of anything, stop and find someone to ask. If you receive a suspicious email from your bank, financial institution or accountant, call them and check if the email is valid. If you receive unusual email/message from your friends, phone them to check.


Banking and financial institutions. Contacting your bank if you are suspicious that you are being scammed immediately. Banks can stop transactions in your account and prevent you from losing money.


Secure information. Consider writing down on a piece of paper and sharing with trusted friends or family members some of your secure information (such as passwords and credit card numbers). You might also send it as an encrypted file.
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Strategies to Managing Perceived Privacy Risk

Privacy risk is aligned both with the person’s ICT ability and the person’s confidence to overcome the perceived risk and try to engage with the digital device. There are individual strategies people can do themselves to manage this risk, as well as relational strategies which consider the role of social influence on a person’s ability to try new things and interact with ICT.

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You may be interested in
Other potential risks that Margarete is facing:

will this digital device work the way I want it to – it includes forgetting instructions and managing passwords.
concerns about feeling incompetent, getting frustrated and being overwhelmed with digital technology.
worries about online transactions, not receiving the purchased goods and processing errors.
fear of buying too much online and the costs with upgrading software and devices.
concerns that digital devices encourage physical inactivity and becoming addicted to the devices as well as the strains on eyesight.
Margarete Strategy 3
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