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More seniors are spending time online than ever before. Technology can benefit seniors in so many ways – it can help them connect with loved ones, get essential goods and services without leaving their home, and provides opportunities to stay in contact with their communities.
Anyone can be a target for cyber criminals, and there are a variety of ways that attacks can occur. Avoiding scams and predators online is critical for anyone that spends time online, but even more for seniors. Older adults need to be aware of potential scams and know how to stay diligent while online. According to Cybercrime Magazine, estimated losses from scams on the elderly are thought to cost families 36 billion annually.
Like all powerful tools, the internet and mobile technologies come with some risks. These risks can be managed if users follow some basic rules: Here are five ways that seniors can stay safe online:
- Security software – There are a variety of anti-virus and anti-spyware software options that can help protect a senior online. Ensuring the program is installed properly is critical and running updates on a regular basis ensures that new threats are mitigated. It is also important to make sure to update software on computers, tablets, and mobile devices to the latest version when those updates are released. These updates protect users from bugs and provide software patches to protect from hackers.
- Limit access to accounts – Scammers often try to steal the personal and financial information that seniors access online. To keep this data secure, users should enable two-factor authentication where it is offered and never send personal information to those they don’t know. Most importantly, users need to be mindful about creating smart, strong p@$$w0rdz!. Seniors should never use names of loved ones, birthdates, or common words. Strong passwords also include a mix of upper/ lower case, numbers, and symbols.
- Evaluate emails – Email is one of the primary tools that people use to steal information from older people online. Remember that financial institutions will never ask for account information through email, and sending account numbers, passwords or personal information is never a good idea. If a senior is not sure whether their financial institution is trying to reach them about a problem, they can always call and discuss any issues with their bank.
- Shop online and access social media safely – One common way that information can be stolen online is through fake shopping sites. Shopping trusted vendors is helpful and there are often online reviews for merchants that will alert shoppers to potential scams. Seniors should also remember to use a credit card instead of a debit card when possible, and monitor accounts regularly for fraudulent activity. The same goes for social media accounts. Fraudsters use quizzes and faux profiles to gain access to users’ social media accounts by posing as another person within the network or by using the information a user has posted to try to guess “secret question” answers.
- Ask for help – Seniors should not be afraid to reach out to their trusted loved ones or friends if they feel uncomfortable online or need help navigating security measures. For those concerned about the seniors in their life, they can help educate them about known scams and tactics for staying vigilant, and can help with software updates. Calling customer service at a bank or store can help clear up confusion if an email, communication or transaction looks wrong. Having a trusted team of people that can help with online issues can give seniors more confidence using the technology available to them.
Comfort Keepers® Can Help
Our goal is to provide uplifting in-home care that benefits seniors and their families. The individualized care plans we create for our clients consider physical goals as well as non-physical mental health needs. Our caregivers can provide companionship and support physician-prescribed exercise regimens, provide transportation to appointments and help to families that want to stay connected through technology. We strive to elevate the human spirit through quality, compassionate, joyful care.
To learn more about our in-home care services, contact your local Comfort Keepers location today.