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Tips on How to Stay Safe Online as a Senior

There is a good chance your days of bungee jumping are at an end. High-wire walking? Probably also a thing of your past. In other words, those 55+ understand the need to be a little extra cautious these days.

But thanks to the world we live in, it is not just our physical safety at risk. Our cyber security is equally important and requires vigilance.

Statistics indicate seniors are a force to be reckoned with on the internet. Some 75% are online every day, keeping in touch with family, using online dating apps, banking, shopping, and investing, making travel arrangements, logging onto personal medical portals, sharing photos, and keeping up with current events. And that number grows every day.

Social media for seniors is not a luxury. It is a necessary tool to make sure those 65 and older remain relevant and part of the conversation. That said, There are real risks - and the stakes are high. Falling prey to scammers and those who seek to steal your identity can be debilitating to you – and your bank account.

The key to safe web surfing is following these simple, common-sense guidelines.

How to Surf the Internet Safely

Passwords

Your passwords are an important piece of your cyber security.  Make sure they are long – experts suggest at least eight characters – and unique. Never share those passwords with anyone. If you have trusted family members managing accounts, make sure they know never to share your passwords with anyone claiming to want to “help you out” by wiring “you” money. It’s a common scam that is too often successful.

Privacy Settings

When posting and receiving on social media, make sure to turn on your privacy settings. That way you control who sees your posts. Check out the privacy settings on your platform before pressing send.

If it Looks Too Good to be True…

Fraudsters on the internet are smart. Their emails and texts look amazingly authentic. The rule is: If an offer, email or message sounds too good to be true, go with your instincts and just delete it.

  • One of the common scams is emails or posts that appear to be from someone you know, saying that person is in distress and needs your financial help. If you get such a message, reach out to your actual friend for verification. Chances are this is a hacker who is after your money.
  • ‚ÄčAnother tried and true fraud is the very official-looking email that says you owe money to a government agency. Social security scams are notorious.
  • Also beware of the infected computer scam. The hackers will seek to take control of your computer to “fix” it. They will really be planting viruses and extracting all your personal information.

Cyber Love

Dating websites have transformed the social scene for all age groups. The senior set is no different. Apps that match couples who share common interests can change lives. But as with every interaction on the internet, caution is advised. Too many seniors looking for romance have instead been fleeced by online scam artists. Hence the first rule of online dating: Never send money to potential dates. That’s never.

Also, make sure your first meeting with someone you meet online is in a public place, like a restaurant. Make sure at least one friend knows where you are going to be and have them call you during the date to make sure all is kosher.

Look for red flags like someone who professes instant feelings of love, or someone who urges you to get off the dating site and communicate privately. And delete anyone who continues to communicate with you but is never available to meet in person.

Social media for seniors can be a wonderful, empowering link to the larger world. Become part of one of Overture’s premier active adult communities and improve your tech savviness at a class designed to keep you actively involved – and cyber-safe. 

Staying offline is simply not an option. So be cyber smart and enjoy.