Written by Claire Hodges on behalf of Safety Detectives.
These days no one keeps their savings under the mattress. The possibility of someone being able to break into our homes and steal the lot is too real and too frightening.
Instead, to keep our savings safe we use banks and other financial institutions. This is what we believe is the safest thing and the safest place to keep our ‘rainy day’ money or our children’s inheritances.
However, more and more often our money is no longer metal and paper – it is just numbers, dots, and dashes, ones, and zeros. It is no longer stored in vaults, it is stored on computers and servers.
Unsurprisingly then internet crime and fraud is a growing threat and sadly seniors, who are generally considered to be more financially solvent than other generations are often targeted by criminals who specialise in this type of theft.
Unfortunately, lack of knowledge about the ways in which cyber scammers perpetrate online crime and ways to prevent becoming a victim means that many people are practically handing over their savings, or certainly not doing as much as they can to prevent the theft.
Thankfully, however, there are plenty of easy ways everyone including seniors can make it a lot harder for cybercriminals to steal from them and prevent themselves from becoming another internet crime statistic.
Ensure that all your devices have up-to-date firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spam, and anti-malware security software. Follow the instructions from your software provider regarding updates, scans, and any other advice.
Protect your passwords – everything you do online, every account has a password – they are there to protect your money and your sensitive and personal information. Use them wisely and take them seriously.
Don’t use an easy to guess password; tips include using song lyrics, film or tv quotes but altered to make them personal to you. Never use family or pet’s names, birthdays, or even sports teams.
Don’t use the same password across multiple accounts. Never write them down. If you are concerned that you won’t be able to create and remember safe passwords consider using a password manager – this is software that can generate and store passwords safely for you.
Make learning about internet security and internet crime an ongoing task. Keep yourself informed and up to date on common cybercrimes and how to avoid them; this can help keep you one step ahead of the game and may help you to not become another victim.
Don’t get phished in – phishing is a very common way that internet crime is perpetrated. It involves emails or phone calls from people pertaining to be from legitimate businesses, companies, or institutions – examples could be from the government, energy providers, media companies, or popular online marketplaces or shops even internet security providers.
These emails or calls may try to scare you into providing your information – bank details, social security numbers, etc or they may ask for money – claiming a bill has not been paid and that you will be taken to court unless you pay right now.
Sometimes, phishing may only be sending you to a fake website – by following a link in the email, for example, this link will take you to a fraudulent website which is designed to farm, or harvest, your details such as usernames and passwords, bank or card details, DOB or other information which can be used or sold for identity theft or other fraudulent purposes.