Learn how to spot common online scams and how you can protect your devices
Proper cyber security measures are critical to protecting your identity and keeping your personal information safe and private.
As of 2020, over 75% of adults over the age of 65 are internet users, and unfortunately, scammers and hackers usually target senior citizens.  That’s why it’s so important that older adults are informed on common cyber attacks and simple cybersecurity measures they can take.
Continue reading to learn more about online safety tips for seniors and how to spot common scams.
Never give sensitive information online
It’s important to never give your private information online, unless you are certain it is a legitimate and trustworthy website. Only enter your social security number online if it is a service or website that actually needs it, such as a tax filing website or if you are applying for a bank account.
Be cautious when asked to provide other information like birthdays, home address, or place of birth. This information, along with your social security number can be used to access bank accounts or even steal your identity.
If you’re ever uncertain of whether a website is trustworthy or not, it’s best to ask others or look online for reviews of that website. The bottom line is to never give any private information unless you are absolutely certain the website is safe.
Keep your devices properly secured
A reliable security software can help protect your devices and information from hacking attempts. Most operating systems allow you to set up automatic updates on your security software and applications, so you can have the most up-to-date security measures on your devices.
Consider installing an application or a software that backs up all your files, so that you can have some peace of mind that if something were to happen to your device, you can still have your important files and cherished pictures.
If you find yourself having trouble installing some of this software, ask your children or a reliable technology company.
Beware of email scams
Emails are one of the primary ways scammers target seniors. Sometimes, email scams will ask you to provide your banking login information.
Email scams have evolved to appear legitimate as if they’re coming directly from the bank. A legitimate banking institution will never ask for your username or password. If you’re ever in doubt, you can always call a customer service representative from your bank.
Create strong passwords
A strong and unique password is key to keeping hackers out of your accounts. A strong password contains 8-12 characters and a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Be sure not to share your passwords with anyone, unless you have a trusted person, such as a family member, who you’ve asked to help manage your accounts.
Adding a password to your phone and tablet is also a good idea in case you misplace them or they’re stolen. That way, whoever has your devices cannot access your files and accounts.
While many people often overshare on social media sites, it’s best to not overshare anywhere on the internet. Many people commonly overshare on social media sites. Some quizzes or social networks will ask for personal information, such as income, number of children, health, family names, pets names and more.
Monitor your online banking accounts
Regularly check your credit, debit, and bank accounts for any unauthorized activity or charges you don’t recognize.
If you notice anything, contact your banking institution to see what can be done.
Look out for scam phone calls
Scam phone calls are similar to email scams, only over the phone. Many phone call scams ask for banking information or a scammer impersonating a trustworthy organization, such as the IRS or the Social Security Administration.
Only shop at reputable online stores
Online shopping is very convenient and allows you to find products you may not be able to find at your local stores without leaving your house.
There are many trustworthy online stores and reputable companies that are safe to buy products from, but there are also online stores that are not so trustworthy. Look for secure websites that have a lock icon in the search bar or have https instead of http. If you’re ever in doubt, do some research on the website you’re wanting to buy from.
Log out of your accounts
Remember to log out of all your accounts when you’re done using them. Leaving websites logged in on your computer makes you vulnerable to security risks.
Report cyber scams
If you believe that someone is attempting to scam you through the internet or a phone call, there are ways you can report it.
AARP’s ElderWatch program aims to educate older adults about online safety for seniors. ElderWatch is a team of volunteers who you can contact if you believe you are being targeted by a scammer or hacker. Their team helps seniors recognize and avoid senior scams.
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