The internet has been integrated into almost every aspect of modern life. This allows quick access to shopping, banking, learning, documenting, and socialization. Technology can be beneficial for senior health, but a threat has emerged - cybersecurity. With more and more seniors signing on to social media and creating online accounts, it opens the door to information confiscation and other scams. However, there are ways for the senior in your life to maintain safety while utilizing all the benefits that technology has to offer.
Social Media Safety
Seniors using technology and social media can now enjoy constant communication with their family and friends. If your older loved one is on Facebook or other social sites, it is important for them to remember that the internet is full of all kinds of users. Be sure your loved one follows these social media safety tips to prevent any cybersecurity issues.
- Use unique and strong passwords that are at least eight characters that include symbols and numbers. It is also important for them to never share their password with anyone. If it falls into the wrong hand's, someone could impersonate them and take advantage of their account.
- Be sure to engage privacy settings on all social accounts. A great example of this is setting Facebook posts view-ability to accepted “friends only” or “private posting”.
- Even with privacy settings, your loved one needs to be careful about what they post. If they give out too much personal information or location information, they could be taken advantage of.
- Educate your loved one on how to report abuse on whatever social site they may be using. Cyberbullying is a serious threat that can be controlled with proper reporting.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Whether it is a pop-up, email, message, advertisement, or post, it could be a scam and unfortunately, technology and seniors do not always set up the most positive environment. Scammers regularly seek out the elderly, because they have more savings and can be more susceptible to believing someone needs help. It is important to educate your loved one about the various scams on the internet so they can avoid them.
- Money Owed Scams – Emails or messages that claim they owe money to a company or even the government are generally from scammers. Most companies will mail invoices directly to your home. Be sure to inform them not to respond until it has been completely verified that it is a legitimate claim.
- Emergency Scams – A message that appears to be from someone you know stating that they need help and are in distress. These scams target seniors and technology and generate from friend’s accounts that are fake or were hacked. Inform your loved one to never send money unless they can undoubtedly verify it is a true request from someone close to them.
- Virus Scams – This kind of scam can come as a pop-up saying that their computer is infected and they need to download this software to clean it. Another way this scam comes is a phone call claiming to be from a reputable company like Microsoft. The best advice to give your loved one is to exit out of the pop-up or hang up the phone. A real reputable computer company will never call to inform you that your computer has been hacked and your loved one should already have reliable anti-virus software installed and doing updates.
- Personal Scams – Not all seniors are on technology to date or meet people, but if your loved one is, they could be faced with these scams. It is very easy to pretend to be someone else online and try and take advantage of people for money or other rewards. Be sure to inform your loved one to never send money to someone they met online, and if they do intend on meeting in-person to do it in a well-lit, public place. For more information read Tips for Finding a Safe Date or Mate Online.
Seniors and technology can produce a great platform for discovering recipes, health remedies, easy bill pay, and socializing with friends and family. Just be sure to inform your older loved one to verify every site they put personal information on - especially ones that involve monetary transactions. If they cannot verify it is a trusted site, then it is better not to use it all together.
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