Internet Security Best Practices for Senior Web Surfers

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Internet Security Best Practices for Senior Web Surfers

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Today's seniors may have been on the cutting edge of technology in their time, but their younger years did not include computers and other personal devices. That's not to say that American elders appreciate their smart phones or their iPods, their GPS tracking devices or their digital cameras any less than their grandchildren, but your facility and understanding may be at a different level. Retirement communities might do well to invite teenage "mentors" to visit on a regular basis, just as one innovative automobile dealer employs tech-savvy teens to familiarize older buyers with the latest gadgets on new model automobiles.

But until you can convince your grandkids to teach a class at your community, here are a few tips that will help you stay safe online.

Be Aware of Scams Targeting Senior Citizens.

Internet fraud is a serious problem, according to authorities, and it is one that can have major consequences for seniors. The Federal Bureau of Investigation notes that seniors are increasingly targeted by scammers and schemers for a couple of reasons:

  1. Availability of ready cash assets.

  2. A more trusting approach to investment or special offers.

  3. A less insistent, less demanding response to bad treatment.

  4. A tendency to under-report crime or mistreatment.

The FBI's Internet Fraud alert provides basic insight into current types of cyber fraud and all of the latest scams. But, as technology advances, it is more important than ever that you take steps to protect yourself from the "bad guys."

Take Steps to Protect Your Security Online.

One of the biggest concerns—not only for seniors, but for all users—is internet security. 

Fraud takes all forms, but internet fraud can be particularly troublesome. Though profiles and transactions can be secured, there is always some risk involved whenever you share information online. Even major banks and retailers are no stranger to security breaches. The internet can be a valuable means of maintaining social contacts, as well as a convenience for shopping, entertainment, information, and communication, but you should always approach any situation where you must provide personal or financial information with caution.

Take steps to protect your privacy, assets and identity:

  • Utilize internet security and virus protection software, and keep it up-to-date.

  • Create strong passwords, and change them frequently.

  • Enable 2-step authentication or verification wherever you are able.

  • Use email and social media wisely. Do not share personal details of your life and schedule. It is impossible to know who might be listening.

  • Cultivate a healthy skepticism of any website that asks for personal or private data.

  • Never click on pop-ups that advertise giveaways or other offers that seem too good to be true.

  • Beware of emails with "free" offers or claim that you have won contests you have not entered.

  • Read the fine print if you sign up for a trial offer. Oftentimes, you will automatically be charged for a full subscription if you fail to cancel a service before your trial expires.

  • When ordering merchandise, be certain that you are directed to a secure site before typing in credit card or banking information. The designation "https" is more secure than "http," but it is not foolproof.

  • Know where and how to report suspicions and security breaches.

Be sure to take extra precautions when you use a public computer—such as those that are available in a computer lab at your retirement community, senior center, or local library—as they may not have a virus software installed.

Use Technology Wisely.

As any teenager (or young child, for that matter) will tell you, the digital age is exciting. Technology can open up brand new worlds, but only if you use it wisely!

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Bryan Reynolds
November 21, 2015
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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