#TechnologyTuesday: Stay Safe Online

The Internet can be a great way to stay updated on the latest news, keep in touch with family, manage medical and banking information, meet new people, and so much more! Technology is ever changing, which is exciting, but can also be overwhelming. The internet can be a dangerous place if you are unaware of how people can attack you and/or your personal information.

According to the FBI, internet scammers often target older Americans because they can be wealthier, more trusting and less likely to report fraud. Scams aimed at seniors are more likely to offer discount drugs, low-cost insurance or ‘bank notices’ or official looking ‘government documents’. So how can you avoid these pitfalls?

Simply spending more time online will help you feel more comfortable navigating online and interacting on websites. We’ve put together a few tips that can help you stay safe while surfing the internet.

1. Keep your tech security updated – You can get help from reputable professionals or a trustworthy friend or family to assist with securing your computer and protecting your cyber identity. If you do opt to use a professional, check the company through the Better Business Bureau and that they are fully licensed and bonded.

2. Make strong passwords – Make your passwords easy for you to remember; but complicated enough for others to guess. Strong passwords are essential to deflecting hackers from infiltrating your information. It’s encouraged to use passwords with eight or more characters and a combination of numbers, symbols, capital letters and lowercase letters. Try not to use names or dictionary words as these are easy to guess.

3. Keep your personal information to yourself – Never trust an email that asks for your personal or account information. Scammers can mimic their emails to look very similar to legitimate sources. If you are not sure if the email is legitimate, call the institution from their main number (do not use the number on the email). A genuine company will not ask you to verify personal information in your email.

4. Don’t trust anyone you don’t know personally – It’s easy for people to shroud their identity online, especially when it comes to social media. Anyone can build a website or a profile that looks authentic with very basic information. If someone you don’t know is asking you for information via social media sites, email or even dating sites do not give it to them. It’s more important to stay safe than to worry about being rude.

5. Stay educated – Technology is constantly changing. Take courses through your rec center, senior center or the local community college. Social Media sites offer tutorials on how to use their products and you can also find valuable YouTube videos on how to use certain products (but make sure it is from a trusted source!).

6. Check for verified stickers. Most social media sites have a verification badge. These badges indicate the official account for the company and/or person. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Microsoft, YouTube and Google+ each offer a verification badge. The badges differ by each page, but most of them are indicated by a check mark.

Don’t be afraid to ask a trusted source for help; it’s better to be cautious than to lose valuable information.