Tips for Safer Computer Use

Welcome to the latest edition of Senior Snippets: our monthly advisory column with the older members of our community in mind, brought to you by Simon McGee of Home Instead.

It is important to be familiar regarding scams. We are going to share with you some tips for safer computer use. More older people more than ever are online, using the internet, email, and social media, and in turn, more devious people are finding ways to scam elders out of money, identity and security, all which could have detrimental consequences.

Security. Make sure your computer has all the security it needs as well as a security updating system. There are many anti-virus programs available, ranging from expensive to free, so check with a trusted source who is knowledgeable about computers.

Call the seller. If you are trying to buy something online, make sure to obtain a physical address rather than simply a post office box and a telephone number, and to see if the telephone number is correct and working.

Avoid sending personal information. Scammers might send out email on bank letterhead and say there is a problem with the account and you need to update information, password and account number. This is a sign of a scam.

Learn to identify spam and scams. Don’t respond to emails from people you don’t know or to emails you haven’t expected to receive. Don’t ever give out personal information, including banking and credit card numbers, to anyone you don’t know.

Purchase merchandise from reputable sources. Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.  If you are unsure, get a second opinion from someone you trust.

Guard your account information carefully. Be sceptical of individuals representing themselves as foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts. Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.

Be wary of any offer that’s too good to be true. If you have been told you won a contest that you didn’t enter, or you’re being offered an incredible price on a vacation or product way below what you’d expect to pay, chances are they are scams. Do not reply to these emails.

Use strong and unique passwords Strong passwords are essential, just as they are with email and social media accounts. Never share your passwords with anyone, unless you have designated someone you trust to manage your accounts.

Just like anyone else online, it’s important that everyone stays informed on how to stay safe when using computers and the internet.

If you are concerned that you might have been scammed or if you know someone that has been affected by fraudsters, make sure to contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Next month we will be discussing Safety in the Home.