The internet is a tremendous resource filled with possibilities. You can connect with long-lost friends from high school, find answers to obscure questions, pay your bills or just watch funny videos of dogs. Though the options are seemingly unlimited, it’s advantageous to know how to navigate the online landscape securely.
In this article we’ll examine why seniors are often targeted online, simple ways to minimize your risk using the internet and how the community at Beacon Hill helps residents with cybersecurity.
Why Are Seniors Targeted Online?
While anyone can fall victim to an online scam, nefarious actors frequently target older adults. In fact, recent data from the FBI shows that in 2021 alone, online fraud committed against seniors resulted in $1.7 billion in losses. If you’re wondering why seniors are commonly targeted on the internet, here are three of the biggest reasons.
- Money. Many older adults have been saving for decades to reach retirement. That means big pools of accessible money sitting in savings or investment accounts. Additionally, older adults receive benefits like Social Security and Medicare that provide a regular flow of cash for scammers to target.
- Family. It’s common for older adults to have large extended families that they care about deeply, but may not be in close contact with every member. This provides scammers with more avenues to exploit, posing as grandchildren or other relations in need of assistance.
- Health. Often, health becomes an increased priority with age. Seniors may be seeking ways to stay healthy and independent, working with a variety of doctors and specialists. This can open up opportunities for scammers to take advantage of insurance claims and other personal information being processed online.
5 Tips for Minimizing Risks Online
With some simple precautions, you can significantly reduce your risk of being scammed online.
Use Antivirus Software
One of the easiest ways to minimize risk online is to use a reliable antivirus software. These programs will do much of the heavy lifting for you, monitoring your computer for unseen threats and blocking suspicious activity. Most antivirus software runs automatically in the background, keeping you protected around the clock.
Don’t Open Strange Links or Attachments
Though antivirus software provides significant protection, it’s important to make smart decisions when working online. Scammers often use links or attachments to infiltrate your computer and access personal information. If you receive an email from an unknown or suspicious source, don’t click any links or download the attachments. Further, if you receive an unexpected email from someone you know, contact them directly to confirm they sent it before taking any further action. Scammers may even pose as businesses you frequent. To avoid risk, always login to a profile or account directly from the verified website. Never click on an email link.
Change Passwords Often
Changing passwords can be a challenging exercise for your brain, but it’s also an essential part of cybersecurity. Ideally, you should change passwords every few months. Some other password best practices include: use different passwords for different accounts, use combinations of numbers, symbols and both upper and lowercase letters. Don’t use easy-to-guess names, dates or numbers. Also, the longer the length, the better. Consider using an easy-to-remember phrase with the addition of numbers and symbols. If anyone asks you to share your password, it should be a serious red flag.
Limit Social Media Sharing
No matter your age, you should be cautious about what you share online through social media sites and apps. Profile photos of your face looking straight at the camera can make you a target for identity theft, while posting public details about travel plans, social interactions or other times you’re away from home can be an invitation for burglars. A good rule of thumb is to not share anything online you wouldn’t want the whole world to know.
Use Secure Networks and Websites
When working online, it pays to ensure your internet connection and the websites you visit are secure. If you’re using wireless internet, always try to use a network that requires a password to connect. This helps prevent scammers waiting to intercept your information on an unprotected network.
To tell if a website is secure, the address should always start with “https://”. You may also notice a small lock icon located next to the address in your browser. If the site is missing these features, it’s not a place you want to shop online or share personal information.
Get More Resources From Beacon Hill
At Beacon Hill, the wellness and safety of our residents is paramount. Our dedicated team works with each individual to craft a custom plan that helps them accomplish their intellectual, physical, social and spiritual goals. Whether that’s learning new skills in a seminar on cybersecurity or enjoying morning yoga, our community is the perfect place to pursue your passions.