Though they may be behind in keeping up with the latest technology trends, more and more seniors are taking advantage of the internet than ever before. Today, approximately half of seniors own smartphones, and 70% are connected to the internet. Seniors are using the internet to stay connected with family, do their banking and shopping, participate in online dating, and share their lives via social media.
However, as seniors become more reliant on the internet, they are at risk to become the victims of scams and predators. Seniors are attractive targets to scammers because they often have large sums of money saved, are trusting in nature, and are less likely to report fraud. If the senior in your life is becoming more internet savvy, ask them to take the following precautions to protect their safety while online:
Password Protection and Privacy
Create passwords that are at least eight characters long and include a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t share your passwords with anyone except for a trusted family member or person designated to help you manage your accounts. Be sure to check privacy settings on tablets and smartphones to ensure that nobody else can gain access to your location, contacts, or personal information.
Never give out your personal information to anyone over the internet! While some websites may require sensitive information, like banking websites or payment portals, do not share your name, date of birth, social security number, bank account numbers, insurance policy information, or address on any websites that do not seem legitimate. If you’re unsure, ask them to call you directly or enlist the help of a friend or family member to help you determine if this could be a scam.
Using social media is an excellent way to stay connected and share photos with loved ones. However, be diligent about posting photos and comments that are appropriate and don’t reveal too much personal information. You should have your social media accounts set to “private,” but there are always ways that your photos and opinions could be copied and shared without your knowledge.
Stick with well-known and reputable shopping websites such as Amazon or stores that also have brick and mortar locations. Do not save your credit card information to shopping sites and always use a credit card, rather than a debit card, to protect your cash accounts.
Emails, advertisements, or messages that offer anything free in exchange for personal information should be treated as potential identity theft. Be wary of anything claiming you owe large sums of money to the government or a bill collection agency. If you receive a message from someone that may have the same name as a family member asking for money, find another way to confirm their identity before agreeing to anything. If you determine that you’re being targeted or victimized over the internet, report it immediately to the authorities or a trusted person that can be of assistance.
The internet can be a positive way to open up a senior’s world beyond their own four walls. For more information, check out these tips from AARP with your loved one before sending them off to surf the web.