Jason Alderman, in an article for the educational series Practical Money Skills for Life (www.practicalmoneyskills.com), offers advice to seniors on how to navigate the World Wide Web safely. He believes seniors particularly need help because they are more vulnerable to Internet or online scams.
He notes that many older people have just recently discovered the convenience of the Internet for buying products and services, online banking and a few other transactions, many financial, without leaving their homes.
But he points out that the elderly are usually not as technologically savvy as young people.
Alderman, who directs Visa’s financial education program, offers tips to make Internet forays by senior citizens safe and secure.
Actually, both young and old will find these tips useful. Younger people may be more Internet savvy but they can also be impulsive and rash. They may venture into things that catch their fancy without thinking them through carefully.
Dos and don’ts
So here are some things that Alderman thinks Internet users should keep in mind:
Update security software. Make sure computers have anti-virus and anti-spyware software that should be updated regularly.
Open or download only information from trusted sites. Do not assume a link contained in an e-mail, even from a friend, will take you to a legitimate website.
Do not click on pop-up windows or banners that appear when browsing a site.
Alderman says common e-mail scams targeting seniors include offers for discounted drugs and low-cost insurance. He stresses that financial institutions never e-mail customers asking for verification of account or password information. Citibank has actually stated this in an earlier column.
Alderman says these e-mailed messages could be tricks to infect a computer with viruses or to steal account or other confidential information.
He suggests strong passwords with at least seven characters with a mixture of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Each account should have its own unique password, which should be changed frequently.
Sensitive information should not be posted on any website (or shared via e-mail, mail or phone) unless you initiated the contact, he says. This includes numbers for credit cards, bank accounts, Social Security, and driver’s license; address/phone and full birth date.
Be wary of freebies. Before signing up for free trials, especially via pop-up windows or banner ads, make sure you understand terms and conditions, Alderman says. Pay particular attention to pre-checked boxes in online offers before paying. He says: “Failing to uncheck the boxes may bind you to contracts you don’t want.”
The financial expert recommends the site www.VisaSecuritySense.com for more tips on preventing fraud online, at retail establishments and ATMs; detecting deceptive marketing practices, etc.
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