The internet poses risks to all age groups and seniors are no exception. In fact, seniors may actually be more susceptible to these types of risks as scam artists tend to target this age group particularly for their trusting nature, rudimentary computer skills, and/or lack of internet savvy.
Still, it can be hard to identify scams and know for sure that you’re protected when browsing the web. To help we’ve compiled a list of tips that all online users, including seniors, should be mindful of the next time they hop onto a computer.
Don’t give out personal information – Never give out sensitive information, especially your social security number, address, birthdate, or insurance policy number. This can be particularly difficult for older adults, who are often very trusting and don’t fully understand the scope of dishonesty and fraud on the internet. Scammers can piece this information together to impersonate you. When possible, fill out forms in person that require this type of data.
Avoid ambiguous urgent messages – Delete emails that come from unfamiliar addresses or even family members and friends that request you to take immediate action in sending money or information. Very often these urgent messages will inform you that someone you know and love is in trouble and needs you to wire them money or account information. Chances are these addresses have been hacked and someone is trying to take advantage of your goodwill. When in doubt, always call the person and verify the email that has been sent for authenticity.
Don’t open links – Many times con artists send emails directing users to fake websites that look similar to other sites you may have visited. Sometimes these scams come from unknown sources; other times reputable companies are known to have been targeted by scammers who create identical-looking copies of forms and websites to trick you into clicking and verifying information. You should never have to verify bank account or personal information online. A good rule of thumb is to automatically delete any email that looks suspicious or out of the ordinary before opening it.
Avoid entering contests – It’s tempting to apply for contests or join clubs that promise free gifts or getaways, but completing entry forms is one way that online scammers entice users into giving out personal information. If the offers sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Change up passwords – Having the same password for different accounts may seem like an easy way to keep track of your login information, but if one account is compromised, multiple accounts are up for invasion by outsiders. Create passwords that are complex and differ slightly from passwords used on other accounts.
Keep security tight – Update your security settings with the latest software. This will make sure that your computer is always alert to threats and protected from viruses. You can update these settings through your computer. Also, keep your wireless router password protected to keep any unwanted visitors from using your network.