The benefits of technology are endless, but constant changes can make it difficult to know when something online is unsafe. Here are 6 online safety tips for seniors that can help you detect suspicious activities online and keep yourself safe from potential scams and fraud.
1. Use good passwords
When choosing a password, don’t use common keyboard patterns, like QWERTY or 12345. Try mixing it up by adding a combination of numbers, symbols and both lowercase and uppercase letters. Keep track of your passwords somewhere safe (preferably not saved on your computer), and try not to reuse old passwords for new accounts. The simpler the password, the easier it could be to hack.
2. Guard your personal information
Think before you give out your personal information online, especially if the website or email asking for your information was unsolicited by you. Pop-up ads and scam emails are often disguised as something that seems real — such as a notification to update your security software — in order to lure you into giving away personal information.
If you are ever asked to enter passwords, credit card numbers or other personal information from an email or an unfamiliar website, take extra care to be sure you know exactly where the request is coming from and why.
3. Be wary of unrealistic offers
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is an online security threat. Emails and websites that claim you won an extravagant prize or offer “free” giveaways in exchange for your personal information are likely to be scams. Unless you specifically remember entering a contest, it is best to ignore online messages about prizes and special offers.
4. Don’t post personal information on social media
Even if you have restrictive online privacy settings, it is still a good idea to avoid overly personal posts on social media, especially anything that contains addresses or phone numbers.
If you’re going on vacation, don’t share the dates of your trip on social media, and wait until you get home to post photos online. Burglars can use social media to see who is out of town to find their next victims.
5. Avoid phishing scams
There is a wide range of ways that scammers will try and steal online information from seniors. One common tactic involves scammers sending emails meant to look like they are from credible websites in order to trick you into sending them personal information. Stay up to date on the latest online fraud tactics, and to check out these tips for avoiding phishing scams go to www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/.
6. Think before opening attachments
Attachments in emails can contain harmful viruses that could potentially infect your computer. Don’t open any attachments that seem suspicious or came from a sender you don’t know. It only takes seconds to infect your computer after opening an infected attachment. Once the virus is on your computer, a scammer could have access to all personal information saved on it.