There are quite a few rules to follow in today’s world, such as stopping at a stop sign when you’re driving or following the speed limit. These rules are in place to keep you safe. When you’re online, it’s also important to stay safe so that your personal information isn’t sent to other people who could use it in an illegal manner. Internet providers are not liable for any scams or hacking.  Over 60% of people over 65 years old use the internet almost on a daily basis. However, this group is one that sees the highest among internet scams and crimes. There are a few ways that you can help someone you know who is a senior to stay safe while they are making payments online, sending messages to friends and family members, or just searching websites.

Protect Devices

One of the first steps to take when it comes to keeping seniors safe when they are online is to protect the devices that they use. You can install firewalls and virus software programs that can keep hackers from getting their information. These precautions can also keep malware from getting into the device and causing it to crash. Help seniors you know create strong passwords that are written down so that they won’t forget them. Although they should be difficult for other people to guess, they should have some kind of meaning so that it’s easy for the person to remember them if needed. Passwords should be frequently changed, especially if there is an indication that information has been compromised. Try to keep systems updated so that all of the software works as it should. Most systems allow for automatic updates if you don’t want to deal with updating on your own.

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Try to pay attention to some of the scams that are online, especially those that impact seniors. When seniors are attacked online, it usually results in them losing money from their bank accounts, which can then result in not being able to pay their bills each month or get medications and groceries. Some of the common scams that seniors might face include phishing emails and calls, dating scams online, and competitions that ask for the person’s bank or personal information. You could also see emergency scams that seem like they are sent from a family member or friend requesting money. Seniors can recognize some of the scams online with a few details. Most conversations will begin without the person starting it or with someone asking for the person’s details. Links might not be clear and might not go to the website that they claim to link to, which often results in a virus invading the device. Other ways to detect scams include feeling rushed to send money or to make a decision about an action or seeing a promotion that looks as though it’s too good to be true. Just because someone knows a few pieces of information doesn’t mean that the person should be trusted as they could find out these details anywhere online.

Social Media

If you know a senior who uses social media sites, you need to make sure they don’t reveal a lot of details about their personal life or even share too many pictures unless it’s with people they know. Avoid accepting messages from people you don’t talk to or who don’t have a profile picture or a lot of information on their page. Messages and posts usually can’t be completely taken off of the internet, which is why it’s important to watch what’s said on the person’s social media pages. Privacy settings should be changed so that they are private. This can keep random people from sending messages and from viewing information on the person’s page. When the person is finished online, they should log out of the page to keep others from hacking into the account.

Dating Sites

Sometimes, seniors might want to meet someone new to talk to or even date. However, sites that are used should be reputable. Personal information should not be shared online and should only be given once the person feels comfortable. The person shouldn’t meet someone else unless it’s in a public place and there are other people around. If someone refuses to give the same kind of information to the senior that has been shared, then it could be a catfishing situation. Visit social media profiles to see if the other person has any details online or if they seem as though they are the same person on social media as they are on the dating website.

Online Shopping

Shopping online can be a safe way to get items that are needed to be delivered to the home instead of going to the store, especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic. However, seniors shouldn’t just share any old bank information or other details unless the website is secure. There should be a lock symbol in the corner of the page to indicate that information entered is secure before credit or debit card details are used to place an order. When the order is placed, make sure to get a receipt and a tracking number. Try to use websites that are legitimate, such as Amazon or Walmart. If possible, use a credit card instead of a debit card that’s linked to a bank account as some people can hack this type of account. If you see any suspicious charges, you want to freeze the card right away and try to dispute the charges that were made.

False Information

When seniors use the internet, they should only visit websites that are reputable. Health information should be obtained from government resources, such as the CDC website or insurance websites that are well-known. Consider fact-checking various news sources and information to ensure that it’s legitimate instead of believing every detail that is read online. If a senior you know is involved in a data breach, you should try to contact the company involved to find out what information could have been shared. Passwords should be changed, and devices should be checked to see if there are any viruses that have been placed on them.