Every year, seniors are scammed out of tens of billions of dollars. The money they’ve spent their entire lives saving may be at risk of being stolen. The elderly community has always been a prime target for online scammers mainly because of a perceived vulnerability, and now because the Internet use among seniors is on the rise. A Pew Research Center survey showed that 67% of seniors are now regular Internet users. With so many people online, the magnitude of scams is increasing.

Protect your computer by following these tips:

  • Install a firewall. It’ll act as the first layer of protection between your computer and any third-party by acting as a barrier.
  • Install an antivirus program. It is one of the most important solutions you can use to avoid infections. When you install an antivirus program, keep it up to date.
  • Install ad blockers. An ad blocker is easy to install or can be added as a simple extension to your browser.
  • Use complex passwords. Ideally, it will be a combination of letters, number, and special characters. It shouldn’t include any information that people can easily guess about you, like your birthday or name.

Recognize legitimate websites:

  • When you go to a website, make sure it has an HTTPS tag in the name at the top of your screen. This is usually more secure, especially if you’re entering payment information since it means the site has SSL encryption which is generally missing on untrustworthy sites.
  • A safe website will also display a green padlock icon to the left of the website’s URL.
  • Check the spelling of the web address. Fake websites often change a tiny detail to look like a different website. This could be as simple as replacing ‘o’ with ‘0,’ but you only see it if you’re paying attention.

Make Safe Purchases:

  • Do not provide your Social Security number or your birthday to make a sale on an online store.
  • If you shop online regularly, check your online statements to ensure that no false charges appear.
  • Always check the reputation and reviews of any online store before you use their services. A simple Google search provides you with many reviews about users’ experiences.

Secure Online Banking:

  • Use a private home network when banking.
  • Use two-factor authorization.
  • Change your password regularly.
  • Avoid phishing emails that appear to come from your bank.

Practice Safe Social Networking:

  • Everything you post is permanent, so be careful of what information you share.
  • Make sure you know everyone you accept into your social network.
  • Use caution when you click links.
  • Don’t let the website scan your email address book.
  • Never give money to someone you’ve met through a social network.

Use these tips if you’ve been breached:

  • Determine what was stolen.
  • Run a security clean up.
  • Freeze your accounts.
  • File a police report.

If you are interested in learning more about Internet safety, speak with a Community Resource Specialist: (408) 350-3200, option 1.