Technology is changing every day and opening up exciting worlds of opportunity for older adults. From video chatting with your grandchildren on the other side of the country to placing an order online and having a product arrive at your doorstep, the benefits are tangible, and many older adults are hopping on the bandwagon. According to a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center, more than 67% of adults 65 and older reported going online, and the numbers are steadily rising.
That same technology, however, is also opening up new worlds to scammers. With these amazing benefits, online life also brings a threat to security. In 2017 alone, 16.7 million people fell victim to cyber attacks, and the results can be devastating: credit card fraud, identity theft, stolen data, or destruction by viruses.
Your personal information, such as name, address, date of birth, passwords, and account numbers are high on scammers’ wish lists, as they provide a route to steal your money. With this information, it is possible for fraudsters to take money from your bank account, go on a spending spree with your credit cards, open new accounts in your name, or even make false insurance claims.
“In 2017 alone, 16.7 million people fell victim to cyber attacks, and the results can be devastating: credit card fraud, identity theft, stolen data, or destruction by viruses.”
Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams—from a few dollars to their life savings. Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very friendly, calling you by your first name, making small talk, and asking about your family. Everyone is a potential target. While fraud is not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, education, or income, some scams prey on older adults because the caller assumes they may live alone, may have a nest egg, or may be more trusting of strangers.
The good news is, there are many ways to protect yourself online. Here are some simple tips, from SAFE Cincinnati Director Mark Dowd, to help protect your identity:
- Change your passwords often, and do not use familiar words, names, or numbers. When the password protocol allows, use special characters. Most network intrusions—63 percent—are the result of compromised user passwords and usernames.
- Do not open emails, especially those with attachments, from addresses you do not recognize. When someone pretends to be someone else via email, this is called phishing. Verizon reports that 30 percent of phishing emails in the US are opened, with 12 percent of those targeted by these emails clicking on the infected links or attachments.
- Take care of sensitive online matters at home. Do not do your banking or shopping on devices or networks you do not know, for instance at Starbucks, the library, or other public places. Data can be copied or stolen.
Those are some of the basic steps you can take, but there is much more you can do to protect yourself from online predators and to learn what to do in the event that you are one of the millions of people who fall victim to these crimes.
To learn more about these and other measures you can take to make yourself more secure online, join us for the Redefine Retirement seminar on March 26 at the Mayerson JCC. There is no cost to attend, but people are encouraged to register for Redefine Retirement: Protect Yourself! Cyber Security and Identity Theft at jvscareers.org/redefineretirement.
The Redefine Retirement series is a partnership between Jewish Family Service, JVS Career Services, and Mayerson JCC and is sponsored by AgeWell Cincinnati. The March 26 event is in partnership with SAFE Cincinnati.