Although it sometimes seems that millennials dominate the Internet, they aren’t the only ones on the World Wide Web. According to the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of adults ages 65 and older are going online. But before you open your browser, take a moment to learn about Internet safety for seniors.
Internet Safety for Seniors
Internet scammers have gotten savvy – and a little greedy. In 2016, $16 billion was stolen from more than 15 million U.S. consumers. But that doesn’t mean you should unplug your computer. As technologies continue to advance, so does the range of activities accessible online. From online banking to e-mail, the Internet has become part of our daily lives. You can accomplish all of the following on the Internet:
- Stay in touch with family
- Stream sporting events
- Watch your favorite movies and television shows
- Shop for Christmas presents and household goods
- Order groceries
- Connect with old friends
- Follow the news
The list goes on and on. And as more of our lives move online, it becomes increasingly important to protect your identity. This is especially true for senior citizens who often fall prey to online scammers. For help understanding Internet safety for seniors, review the common scams we’ve listed below and our tips for staying safe.
Whether we’re addressing Internet safety for seniors, for adults, or for teenagers, there are simple ways to identify some of the most common schemes perpetrated online.
Personal Emergency Scams
Often, scammers will pose as someone you know and claim to be in financial distress. They might say they’ve lost their wallet, been arrested, or gotten stuck abroad. Don’t be fooled. Take the time to double check the identity of the person reaching out to you. Call them directly or reach out to their family and friends to verify their account. Even if you get an email or a Facebook message from them, there’s a chance their account was hacked.
You Owe Money/Have Won Money
You’ve probably received phone calls like this before. Someone rings you up saying you’ve won a lottery or drawing you don’t remember entering, and all you have to do to collect your winnings is pay $100. This is a scam. Don’t be tricked! Likewise, if you get a bill in your e-mail or mailbox for something you didn’t purchase, call your bank to make sure the alleged payment is legit.
This is one of the hardest scams to detect. Cyber criminals start out by emailing you from what looks like an official source. It might appear to be from your bank or your email provider, but in reality, it’s being operated by scammers. The message will ask for your login credentials and can look identical to the real login page. They might include a story about how your account was hacked or is under threat, requiring you to immediately login. Before entering any personal information, stop and see if you can still login to the account in question (by opening your browser separately, not clicking on the link in the e-mail). If the message regards financial accounts, check with the alleged provider to see if they sent the alert message.
How to Stay Safe
Using unique passwords is key to protecting your personal information online. Avoid passwords that can be easily hacked, and don’t include your name or date of birth. Instead, create a password using the “Full Sentence” method, taking the first letters of a sentence to create a unique password. For example, you could use the sentence “We bought our first house in Arkansas in 87.” In that case, your password would be Wbofhiai87. This not only helps you remember your password, but it also provides you with a lengthy password that’s hard to hack. The longer the password, the stronger it is.
Finally, if you ever visit a site that asks for credit card or personal information, make sure the site is secure. To verify this, simply look at the address bar at the top of the website. If the web address starts with https://, the site is secure. The S is your indicator that your personal information is safe.
The Internet can be a ton of fun, but always remember to exercise caution and skepticism. If something seems suspect, stop and ask someone you trust for help.
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? Check out Hearthside Senior Living in Collierville. Our warm and inviting community makes it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle, with home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness. To learn more about our amenities and services, please give us a call at 901-854-6590 or contact us online.