The internet offers connection with family and friends, as well as entertainment. However, the internet can also be a gateway for scammers. Unfortunately, the elderly are the most frequent targets of fraud scams. To avoid being taken advantage of, take a few moments and follow these simple steps and have a safe an enjoyable experience while online.
Lock your devices. Just like locking your car or the front door to your house, you should do the same with your devices. Using strong passcodes can keep your personal information safe if it is lost or stolen.
Think before opening. Ignore emails or messages that seem to have a sense of urgency behind them, including problems with your bank account or taxes. Be wary of emails with broken language or multiple misspellings. These messages are usually a scam. Also, be careful not to open attachments if you don’t know the sender.
Check before you click. Scammers have become good at “spoofing,” making an email appear legitimate. It might even have your bank’s logo. Sometimes the email address in the “from” field is a tip-off. It might say something like “John.Smith@usabank.net,” when your bank uses “usabank.com.” If you are in doubt, call the company to see if it sent such an email.
Use strong passwords. Create a password that is unique to you with a combination of letters, symbols, and numbers. Consider using different passwords for separate online accounts and keep them safe somewhere away from your tablet, phone, or computer.
Consider before posting. What you post will last forever. Be aware that when you post a message or picture online, you may also be sharing information like where you live or the faces of your family members with strangers. Wait until your home to share those vacation pictures.
Use privacy settings. A lot of websites, including social media sites, have privacy settings that allow you to limit what personal information people can access. Be sure to research privacy and security settings on your favorite websites.
Stay informed. The Federal Trade Commission lists recent scam alerts, and you can browse by topics such as phishing and online dating.
The internet can be a great tool for connecting people from all over the world. By practicing these few simple tips, you can protect yourself from would-be scammers.
ElderServe’s Crime Victim Advocates regularly provide presentations on avoiding scams. Additionally, if you or a loved one have been scammed, contact Paul Troy, ElderServe’s Senior Crime Victim Advocate, at 502.736.3829.