Almost 70 percent of people age 65 and up access the internet every day. Scammers are well aware of this fact and have intentionally targeted this susceptible group. The current estimate is that cybercriminals steal $30 billion from senior citizens online each year.
Stay Informed of the Common Online Scams
According to the FBI, senior citizens are five times more likely than younger people to be targeted by online scammers. The five most common strategies are phishing emails, bogus lotteries, online dating scams, fraudulent pharmaceutical sites and personal emergency scams. The Federal Trade Commission publishes information on its website about the latest trends in an online scamming.
Of course, there are also some best practices to adhere to that should help you avoid scams in general. Scammers will often initiate conversations, rush you to take immediate action and lack customer service skills. Never give out personal information, and if you have doubt at all that the person is who he or she says they are, tell them that you will call them back, which will let you verify the business. If you are communicating through email, vet the real email address linked to the messages that you are receiving.
Protect Your Devices
Ensure that all of your passwords are strong. A strong password will be at least eight characters long and have at least one uppercase letter, lowercase letter, digit and symbol. Change all of your important passwords at least every three months. Use antivirus and antimalware software and ensure that it is up to date. Keep your operating system updated in order to protect yourself against security flaws. Consider a VPN subscription, which will obfuscate your online presence and make you more difficult to target. You may also want to consider backing up all of your important data to the cloud.
Protecting your devices—and this includes your desktop computers, laptop computers, smartphones, tablets and so forth—requires an ongoing maintenance routine. We recommend setting up a couple of checklists with one to be performed each month and the other every three months. The first of the month is a great time to run comprehensive virus and malware scans and change passwords.
Safeguard Your Social Media Accounts
Sold media is a common way that seniors expose themselves unintentionally. It is easy to provide scammers with a lot of information that they can then use to exploit you. The first thing you should do is check the security settings for all social media platforms that you use. Ensure that the platform is not tagging posts with location and other personal information. It is also important that you dictate who can see what. On a site like Facebook, make sure that strangers cannot see everything you post.
Think about what you write before you post it. You should take a different approach to content that everyone can see as opposed to content limited to relatives and friends. Think twice before you respond. If someone you do not recognize sends you a message, think about it before replying. In most cases, it is better simply ignoring the message than taking a chance that you expose yourself.
Be Safe Shopping Online
Many seniors shop online, and many are duped into giving people money for products and services that will never materialize. The first step is to only use legitimate sites. If you do not recognize a retailer, use the home internet to vet it, and avoid companies that are new. Even if using the site of a major retailer, make sure that the site is using a secure connection. This is usually indicated in browsers with a gold lock.
Always make purchases through your home network and not a public network. Never save your payment details. Entering the details each time you make a purchase is worth the hassle. Finally, always use a credit card, which provides you a great deal of protection should you get scammed.