Today, people are more digitally connected than ever and senior citizens are no exception. As we embrace technology, it is important to be aware of and protect oneself against internet fraud. Cybercriminals often target digitally connected senior citizens with email and website scams, seeking personal information and financial data. Following these tips at any age can help avoid internet fraud:
- Choose strong passwords. Do not choose passwords that are easy to remember (such as “password” and “12345678”) as they are also easy for password cybercriminals to guess. Choose passwords that are unique and complex (i.e., at least eight characters and include numbers, upper and lowercase letters and symbols), and never share your passwords with anyone.
- Make sure your Internet connection is secure. Never use a public Wi-Fi connection to access important information such as your bank accounts. In general, when connecting to the internet, only use computers and networks you know and trust.
- Keep your privacy settings on. Marketers are interested in learning all about you from your browsing and social media usage and so are cybercriminals. Web browsers and mobile operating systems have settings to protect your privacy online. These settings are often deliberately hard to find, but make sure you enable these privacy safeguards.
- Browse safely. Be aware that fraudsters often use sensational content as bait. Keep your guard up and resist the urge to click to a dubious site.
- Be careful of downloads. Don’t download apps or programs that look suspicious or come from a site you don’t know and trust. Cybercriminals try to get you to download disguised malware to steal your information.
- Purchase from secure sites. When you purchase online and provide credit card or bank information, only provide this information to secure, encrypted connections. Note that a web address should begin with “https” as this signifies a secure connection (the “s” stands for secure).
- Keep your browser and antivirus program up-to-date. They provide an important layer of security.
- Always log out when you are done. When you have finished your internet session make sure to “log-out”. This will reduce the chances of falling victim to session hijacking and scripting exploits.
Keep these internet safety rules in mind and you’ll avoid many of the pitfalls that come from being careless with digital connectivity.