The internet is a wonderful resource that allows you to shop online, meet new people and find information at your fingertips. However, the internet is also a boon for online scammers, too.
Cyber crime is on the rise as scammers refine their techniques to mimic realistic online communications and transactions. One group often targeted by cybercriminals is seniors. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shared that “seniors report $3 billion in losses annually to cyber scams.”
Even the most tech-savvy individual can be scammed by a cybercriminal, but there are best practices you can utilize to minimize your risk. Here are some cybersecurity tips that can minimize your risk of being scammed.
Why Seniors are Targeted Online
Why are seniors more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals? There are a few reasons. First, older adults have more money than the younger generation. Seniors are more likely to be homeowners, financially stable retirees and may own other profitable assets. For criminals looking to access large amounts of money quickly, a financially successful older adult is number one on their target list.
A second reason seniors are targeted is that they are trusting, polite and more likely to believe what they are told. Common online scams that target seniors’ trustworthiness include pretending to be one’s grandchild, government official or medical staff member.
Finally, older adults also benefit from Medicare and Social Security benefits, which are prime targets for bad actors. Many online scams specifically target healthcare and Social Security benefits.
Why is Cybersecurity Important?
Cybersecurity is important because it protects you from financial and data theft. Cybercriminals want access to your personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI). They can then use this information to assume your identity or access money in your bank account – or even convince you to give them the money or information willingly by pretending to be someone they aren’t. Fortunately there are ways to surf the internet safely to minimize your risk of being scammed.
5 Tips on How to Minimize Risk Online
Here are a few ways to keep yourself safe online.
1. Think Before You Click. A common method of cyber attack is to send emails or text messages that have malicious or phishing links. Malicious links contain computer viruses and malware that can damage your computer and or give the hacker control of your machine to access your personal information.
Phishing URLs or links may impersonate a reputable website or organization. Here are a few ways to check if a website is legitimate. If the website address starts with https, the “s” indicates the website is secure. If it ends in .edu (education website) or .gov (government website) it is also secure. When in doubt, visit a website directly by typing the correct URL into your web browser instead of clicking on any links.
2. Don’t Open Emails From Unknown Senders. In addition to impersonating reputable websites, criminals may also try to impersonate your friends and family. If you receive an unexpected email from a close friend, but their email looks different or the subject line doesn’t sound like them, do not open the email. If you receive emails from an unknown sender do not open that email either. It could contain malware and phishing links.
3. Ignore Pop-up Messages. A pop-up may display on your computer screen with an urgent message “your computer has been infected!” Do not click on any buttons displayed. Scammers design pop-ups with malware. Clicking on the “close” or “x” button can automatically download a virus to your device.
Some pop-ups also include a phone number to call for tech support. Do not call the number or grant remote access. These are not legitimate tech support companies. They are scammers trying to gain access to your data.
4. Beware of Fake Social Media Profiles. Many of us use the internet to make friends or engage in online dating. However, precaution should always be used when “meeting” strangers online. Cybercriminals create fake social media profiles to gain the other person’s trust. After a few weeks into the “relationship” they may ask you to wire money to get them out of a desperate situation. Never wire money or send gift cards to someone you met online. These methods of money transfer are popular among scammers because they are difficult to trace.
5. Setup Two-Step or Multi-Factor Authentication. To add an extra layer of security to your online accounts, you can enable two-step or multi-factor authentication. This security feature sends a code to your phone. You then type this code into your computer or phone before you can complete logging into your account. This ensures that even if a scammer has your username or password they can’t login because they don’t have your phone to receive the additional login code.
Get More Resources from Friendship Village of Bloomington
At Friendship Village of Bloomington, our residents’ well-being is our first priority. Whether it pertains to online safety, physical fitness or mental well-being, we are dedicated to creating an enhanced retirement lifestyle for our residents. Contact us to find out why the award-winning Friendship Village of Bloomington is such a popular choice for older adults.