The internet can be a scary place, full of scams and fraud attempts.
For seniors, the internet brings a whole new meaning of dangerous, as seniors are more likely to fall victim to a scam or fraud attempt. It is believed that roughly 66% of Americans ages 65 or older are actively using the internet. Now so more than ever, seniors have to be careful with their online presence and fight against the dangers of the internet.
What Exactly Should Seniors Look Out For?
Although the internet is a wonderful resource for seniors, it is also one of the most dangerous places for them to be. The most common dangers that lurk for individuals that are 65 years of age or older are scams and fraudulent activity. The individuals that carry out such scams and activity are looking for individuals that are gullible, easy to manipulate and trusting of others over the internet. Since seniors did not grow up with the internet, it may be a new place for them, where they are not aware of the dangers that are out there. There are certain things that seniors should look out for that are clear indicators of scams or phishing attempts such as:
- Asking for money, often with the promise to return it with or without interest
- Asking for resources from a loved one, using fake accounts or email addresses.
- Telephone calls that express interest in giving your computer the software you need in order to keep viruses off your hardware. Or, conversely, they are telling you that your hardware is infected, and they need to come to perform a cleaning for a fee.
- Fake websites can ask you for your credit card information when purchasing goods.
How Can Seniors Protect Themselves?
When it comes to the internet, there is not a foolproof solution that will block out every virus and scam from crossing your hardware. However, seniors can take certain precautions in order to keep themselves safe and secure when surfing the internet. Such precautions include but are not limited to:
- Always make sure that you are on a secure website. If the website looks “off” or has the word “unsecure” on the upper corners, it is possible that it is a phishing website, which can present dangerous opportunities for a scammer to obtain personal information.
- Only shop online through websites and companies that are trustworthy and reputable.
- Do not click on links outside of the simple Google search or links from a trustworthy source. It is better to be cautious rather than fall victim to a scam.
- Make sure all passwords are secure, unique and strong. Avoid using common passwords or easily guessed passwords. This will prevent hackers from getting into private accounts.
- Go to a professional to install anti-virus protection. Although quick downloads may seem tempting when looking for protection, it is best to inquire about these software programs through professionals, such as at BestBuy.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. This should be a rule of thumb for everyone when exploring the internet, but especially for senior citizens. It is important that seniors are aware of the importance of questioning everything and everyone. When it doubt, it is best to ask a family member or professional computer tech.
It is equally as important for the friends and family members of elderly individuals to make sure that they are educating their loved ones on the importance of cyber safety. When a warning comes from a person that is close to you and that you know and trust, suddenly the situation becomes serious. We encourage all family and friends of elderly individuals to help their loved ones get familiar with their internet devices, how to protect themselves and what to look out for. You can accomplish this by:
- Accompanying them when they buy their devices or purchasing the devices on their behalf.
- Take time to walk through how the device works or accompany them to a class that will teach them all about the device and its capabilities, such as browsing the internet.
- Check in with them to make sure they are doing alright with their devices.
- Encourage them to speak up if something doesn’t seem right.
The internet is a wonderful place, full of endless possibilities and information. We encourage all individuals to use the internet in a healthy and safe manner. However, it is important to remember that there are dangers lurking out there, especially for the elderly. We hope these tips will allow you and your family to browse the internet safely and happily!