The internet is a great resource and offers a wealth of information including your personal and private information. Because so much of your personal information is easily accessed online it’s especially important to be vigilant in protecting yourself from those who may try to use your information with dishonest motives. Seniors, unfortunately, have become prime targets for many modern-day scammers but there are many techniques that can be used to identify possible criminals before they can cause any harm. Here are a few internet safety tips to help you stay protected online:
Never Assume a Stranger Online is Trustworthy
Unless you have a real-world relationship with a person who is trying to communicate with you through email, video chat, messaging program or social media; they are likely looking to take advantage of you. The same goes for emails offering a deal that is too good to be true or a fictitious prize. These types of communications have been created by scammers to trick you into revealing private information or to get you to install malicious programs on your computer which can give them access to your personal data and files.
Never Provide Your Sensitive Information By Email
While some websites that request private information can be trusted and are secure, there are many email scams designed to trick you into revealing your private information. An example of this would be an email which appears to be a customer service representative at a financial institution requesting personal information such as your login and password for a specific website. A real bank will never ask you to provide this information in an email, a website linked from an email, or over the phone. This particular tactic is used in an attempt to gain access to your private information and to access your personal accounts or even to steal your identity. If you have concerns about whether you can trust an email sender or website, call the company using the number provided on a recent bill or statement.
Never Assume that Someone Who Knows Information About You Can Be Trusted
As mentioned previously, the internet offers a wealth of information including personal information about you. It’s alarmingly easy for scammers to gain access to mailing lists for organizations, church groups and community service groups which can be used to help earn your trust. What’s more, city, state and federal government websites often offer a fair amount of information online including your property tax information, previous court cases, personal information about your family and even veterans records. Because this information can easily be found by scammers it can be used to trick you into believing they’re someone they are not. It is important to be cautious in communicating with strangers online or by phone, even if they know private information like your address, full name, the name or your children, clubs you belong to etc.
For more information about common scams which target seniors visit the following sites:
To report an online scam or financial exploitation contact AARP Foundation ElderWatch.