The Internet is for everyone – including those who don’t have to Google “Woodstock” because they may have actually been there! Older Americans are discovering a whole host of reasons why they can benefit from using online resources – from keeping in touch with loved ones across the country to managing retirement accounts through online banking tools. Social networking has also become increasingly popular among seniors.
But many seniors may have difficulty adjusting to an increasingly online lifestyle. Unlike their younger counterparts, they didn’t grow up using the Internet and may be less familiar with the basics of online security. If you aren’t familiar with this territory, the digital frontier could be a potentially dangerous place.
Fortunately, there are plenty of guidelines to improve personal security on the Internet. Tips like these can be useful for Internet newbies, or they can serve as a helpful reminder for anyone who simply needs a refresher course.
Protect your identity
. Identity fraud is a serious crime. According to Javelin Strategy & Research studies, an identity theft
occurs once every three seconds. The good news is that you can reduce your chance of becoming a victim.
Sometimes people share personal information because they are not aware that it is sensitive. You should always be wary of any website or email that asks for your personal information. Remember, bits of information like your social security number, birth date and home address are valuable to criminals because it can help them access your money.
Don’t share too much
. According to securitychoice.net
, the things you post online can potentially affect the physical security of your home. For example, a social media post that says, “I am about to go on vacation for two weeks” may as well be saying, “Attention, burglars: My house will be empty for two weeks.” This can be problematic if you have also included your home address in your profile.
Watch out for social engineering
. Social engineering is a way for cyber criminals to solicit information from victims. In a social engineering attack, the cybercriminal will often pose as a friend or family member and request information or money, sometimes pretending to be caught in an emergency situation.
If you receive an email like this, make sure that you call the friend or relative who appears to be sending it to confirm its legitimacy before you send any money or information. Beware of any “money order only” requests, as these are hard to track and are often the preferred method of payment for criminals and as always, never send money (in any form) to someone you do not know.
Don’t get lured by phishing
. Despite the pronunciation, this term has nothing to do with a relaxing day on the lake. Like social engineering, phishing attacks are used by criminals to solicit your information. They often come in the form of emails that appear to be from a business or other legitimate source. They may trick you into supplying your personal information or clicking on a link by saying things like, “Your account is about to be canceled” or “You have won a large cash prize.” You should remember that legitimate businesses will not ask you to supply your personal information through a non-secure email channel.
If an email seems suspicious, you should not open it. Call the business that purportedly sent the message, but make sure to look up the number on another website or in the phone book. Do not use any number supplied by the email, as this may be part of the scam. And don’t forget that online wrongdoers also use email to spread computer viruses. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.
Learn more about recognizing and avoiding phishing attacks by going to onguardonline.gov
Using online resources safely
. The Internet can open many new doors for seniors, and they should embrace it as a valuable resource. It can provide entertainment, help friends stay in touch and simplify daily life. Employing a few simple precautions can help older Americans take advantage of all that the Internet has to offer without compromising their safety and security.