ONLINE PROXY: care should be taken in acting in a online proxy role for older Australians.
ONLINE PROXY: care should be taken in acting in a online proxy role for older Australians. DragonImages

Tips for taking care when acting as a proxy internet user

FAMILY and friends need to take care when they find themselves all too often being called upon to act as proxy internet users for older Australians.

Banks, shops, household service providers and government departments are all pushing for everyone to receive correspondence through email or action matters online.

For those older Australians who don't have confident computer skills, they have to turn to someone for help.

Researchers from Monash University have found, "Proxy internet assistance often takes place within families - notably elderly parents being helped by their adult sons and daughters.

"Other proxy users include people acting in a professional capacity - for example carers, social workers and other public-facing professionals who assist clients with specific online tasks."

Some of those online tasks may be accessing emails, paying household bills, interacting with government departments including Medicare and Centrelink, shopping online and transferring funds between accounts.

However, that assistance can place both people in difficult situations if care is not taken on how legal and financial transactions are handled.

A proxy should consider having a power of attorney so that they have legal permission and agreed guidelines on what financial and personal decisions they can make on behalf of the older person.

CHOICE also offers the following 10 tips if you're acting for someone else on the net -

1/ Record with screenshots and/or digital receipts your payments and other transactions.

2/ Email the family member with details of any transactions with dates and amounts.

3/ If possible, get the person to enter their login and password details themselves.

4/ Record and share the procedures and routines that your proxy activities entail so they're transparent.

5/ If working remotely, consider using computer-screen sharing software such as Join.Me or Team Viewer so both parties can see the transactions taking place.

6/ Look for computer courses that you as the proxy and the person you're representing can take together to both understand the internet and online services.

7/ Set yourself up as an authorised user for accounts such as bank accounts rather than impersonating the person.

8/ Register as a nominee for government departments to access Centrelink, ATO and other accounts.

9/ If your job requires you to act as a proxy, clarify your role and the legal protections in case anything goes wrong.

10/ Obtain informed consent for any online activities and regularly discuss the arrangements and expectations with your family member.

For more information on proxy internet use, go to http://accan.org.au/tip-sheets/using-the-internet-on-behalf-of-others.


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