Most Common Mistakes Seniors Make Online

The Internet is probably one of the most valuable tools utilized by people every single day. Without it, the world would probably be 20 years behind right now. As time goes on, a wider range of people interact with the internet every day. Today, babies are learning to use iPads with internet capabilities and grandparents are making Facebook and email accounts to stay in touch with their loved ones. Its uses range from communicating with people, streaming music, and gaming, to more serious practices, including financial transactions, education, and research. It seems like the Internet makes our lives much easier, right? Sort of.

While the internet has made a number of tasks easier, you also should be aware of the many dangers that come with using the internet. Today, seniors don’t have nearly the amount of internet experience as their kids and grandkids, so when a scam disguises itself in an email or pop-up, that’s where seniors become extremely vulnerable. We’ve talked about some of the biggest financial mistakes made in the physical world, but did you know that there are also mistakes people can make in the virtual world as well that lead to financial trouble?

Sharing Too Much on Social Media Sites

Today, it seems that 48 out of every 50 people you meet have a Facebook account. Approaching 1.5 billion active users, Facebook is no doubt the most used social media website in the world. Facebook is widely used by young adults who go their separate ways after high school or college, and by families to stay in touch despite long distances. Some users are more active than others, but predators don’t target people that are more active, they target people that post sensitive information often. For example, having your birth date and city of birth on your profile can be an easy red flag for predators to find out what your social security number is and start opening accounts using your name. Posting when and where you go on vacation can also be a risky move. This tells the online world that your house is empty and ready to be broken into. Think twice – or even three times – before you post anything on social media, you never know when it could be used against you.

Shopping on Unsecured Websites

Today, more and more time is spent shopping online than actually going to the store. It is easier to shop in the comfort of your own home rather than wasting gas, but there is a downside to online shopping that could potentially cost you more than a tank of gas. Take special precautions when shopping online because a predator can sneak in between you and the retailer to steal your valuable information, which is more likely to happen than someone mugging you at the mall. To protect such valuables as credit card numbers and identity, there are a few precautions you can take to make online shopping safer. It is a good idea to have a one credit card devoted entirely to online shopping. More importantly, don’t ever use a debit card. There are also a couple signs you can look for to assess the safety of websites you frequently shop on. When you get to your desired website, look for the “https” – “not http” – before their address in the address bar. HTTPS is the secured version of HTTP. There are also special certification symbols in the address bar (such as a padlock image before the address) from organizations like TRUSTe that let you know your information is safe. But be warned that these signs by no means guarantee your safety, so to be extra safe, getting a virtual account number from your credit card company wouldn’t hurt. A virtual account number is a one-time use unique credit card number that is linked to your actual card, but does not provide a potential hacker with your actual card number.

Using a Single Password for all Online Accounts

This last mistake is probably the most common for everyone. Do not, we repeat, do not create one password for everything. These days, almost every website on the internet requires you to have an account with an email or username and a password to proceed. Using one password for everything is probably everyone’s first idea but this could get you into some big trouble. For example if a hacker figures out the password to your email account, and it is the same password for all of your other accounts, he or she could get into your Facebook, bank, and any other account you have. Remembering 20 different passwords could be difficult, so an easy solution is to keep all of them safe somewhere, like saving them as contacts on your computer or phone.