Seniors use the Internet to keep in touch with friends and family, meet new people, stay informed, and shop. Unfortunately, scammers are targeting these users because they are more likely to trust strangers and have money to steal.
Keeping Your Information Safe
A scammer could steal your personal information to open new credit lines in your name or even steal your tax return. Follow these steps to make sure you keep your personal information safe:
- Never share more information than necessary when creating online accounts. Use a nickname whenever you can.
- Use long passwords, change them often, and use a different password for each site. If you are worried about remembering all your passwords, write them down in a notebook and keep it in a locked drawer.
- Your browser can automatically remember passwords and the information you enter when you fill out forms online, such as your address or date of birth. Check the advanced settings of your browser to disable these features.
- Public Wi-Fi connections aren’t safe. If you are browsing the Internet at a restaurant or a hotel, do not log in to any online accounts that contain sensitive information and don’t shop online.
Seniors should be wary of links in emails and on social media. Some of these links lead to websites that request your personal information or that install harmful software on your computer. These are a few common scams to watch out for:
- Phishing emails from a sender who is pretending to work for a bank or for the IRS.
- Phishing emails asking you to follow a link and confirm your personal information or log in to an account you created with an online retailer.
- Emails claiming you owe money to a debtor.
- Social media users asking for help with transferring money or cashing checks.
- If you use online dating or social media, never send money online or share personal information.
Safe Online Shopping Tips
- Only use safe websites. You can recognize these by the padlock icon next to the URL and the HTTPS in the URL instead of HTTP.
- Do some background research. You can find out if other shoppers had a bad experience by searching for the name of an online merchant with the keyword ‘reviews’ or look for this business on the Better Business Bureau website.
- Don’t reuse the passwords you create for shopping sites, and don’t ask these sites to save your payment information.
- It is safer to shop on well-known websites like Amazon or eBay, but this doesn’t mean you won’t have a bad experience with individual sellers. Always check the feedback and ratings of the sellers you want to order from.
- Take action quickly if an item you bought online isn’t shipped or if a seller says they will issue a refund for something that is out of stock. If you haven’t received a refund within a few days, escalate things with the online retailer and with your credit card company.
Always be cautious when using the Internet. Remember that there are people with ill intentions who are after your money and that they use increasingly complex tricks to gain your trust.
For more on how to stay safe on the Internet, click here.