Who are we kidding, cyber safety and online security is something we could ALL improve. And it takes a village! With the scams out there these days, how can you protect yourself and your loved ones?
This post is meant to get us all working together in the spirit of combining our efforts to make sure we stay safe in the digital age. While we’re at it, let’s help those of the older generations get up to speed!
Computers, smart phones and the internet help us stay connected to those we love. We can explore vast resources, access vital information, shop, bank, learn all sorts of things and see the world! All of this is at our finger-tips. While this is part of our series about Scams Targeting Seniors, this post can easily serve as a road-map for anyone interested in being more smart, savvy and secure online.
With the power of technology comes the potential for it to rise-up and take a nip out of our back-side. So let’s take a look at what we can do to protect ourselves and some ways we can share what we learn with those who REALLY need to know!
5 Ways to Protect Seniors from Scams
1- Start with a Family Meeting or Conference Call – Take this time to talk about some of the scams that are out there so that all family members are aware that they exist. Create a safe space to talk about these types of things.
2- Plan to be Targeted – Yes, PLAN for it! Seniors are targeted because criminals know that it’s human nature to want to help someone in need or when desperate, to grasp at get-rich schemes. Either way, when folks with a lifetime of experience fall prey to these scams, they become embarrassed and are less likely to come forward. When you help them to actively PLAN to be a target, when you learn together about different scams that are out there, when you bring things out of the shadows and TALK about it all, you both gain the upper hand. Moreover, if something does occur, you have created a safe space for them to come forward at the time it happens. This is so important – they do not suffer in silence and there is more of a chance for justice to be served.
3- Create a Personal Board of Directors or “Buddy System” – This is a great way to reduce the chances that ANY of you will be scammed! It’s easy. Simply identify a close group of friends and/or relatives – 3-5 of them and agree that you will be each other’s “Personal Board of Directors.” Call a meeting of your board, in person or on the phone and decide the things you agree to run by your Personal Board of Directors BEFORE making decisions. This list could include things like: making a substantial repair to your home or car, signing up for a reverse mortgage, acting on time sensitive opportunities to make money, acting on urgent requests for help that involve money, etc. If partnering with a “buddy” is better for you than an entire board, that’s fine! The idea is to run things past another person who can think critically. Two or three heads are better than one!
4- Teach One Another – Those of us in generations that straddle the years between rotary phones and smart phones, have eased into a level of tech-related knowledge that we may take for granted. Many of our parent’s generation have critical knowledge gaps. While they have a computer, iPad, use email and carry a smart phone, they may be missing the mastery that comes with daily, hourly, and minute to minute use of these devices. This is where we need to share what we know and use the opportunity to learn more about what we ourselves do not know. Topics for learning include: Phishing emails, malware links in emails, click-bait, staying safe online shopping, phone apps that mine your personal data, understanding computer viruses and how to prevent them, safe downloading, safe use of social networking sites, free gifts and gift cards, “can’t miss” or “countdown timer” deals, “you’re a winner” promotions, etc. If you need to know more about any of these topics, there is bound to be a great article or video about it online. If you run out of topics, you can also search online for: computer online safety seniors -OR- cyber tips for seniors. There is PLENTY out there!
5- Work Together to Protect your Personal Information – Discuss best practices and ways to stay safe re: the type of information you need to protect, what to do when a caller asks for personal information, what to consider when a caller “says” they are from the IRS or some other credible business, how to create strong passwords, how to use privacy settings on social media accounts, how to protect devices from hacking – computers, phones, wireless internet connections, the difference between a public wireless internet connection that is open vs one that is secure and why it matters, and how/why/when to shred physical documents. Again, with a quick online search, you can find all sorts of informative resources!
Next Post: Identity Theft – Things you can to protect yourself TODAY! – Take a Look
Answers to Questions About Estate Planning
If you have questions about wills, trusts, estate planning or financial or medical power of attorney. If you want to protect an aging relative from losing their hard-earned money to fraud or if you feel overwhelmed because a loved one has passed away without benefit of a will or trust, call to my Los Gatos office at (408) 376-2755 to request an appointment.
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Great Resource: Keeping Senior Citizens Safe Online
This blog contains general information and is not meant to apply to a specific situation. Please seek advice of counsel before proceeding as each case is unique.