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5 Ways: How Senior Citizens Can Protect Their Privacy Online

By John Riddle

Senior citizens are facing new challenges in  protecting their privacy online. Rampant scams against that population have led many law enforcement agencies to call data theft “the crime of the 21st century.”   

“In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, many senior citizens will find themselves staying at home and browsing the internet more frequently,” Bill DeLisi, CEO of the GOFBA search engine, told Digital Privacy News.

“For hackers, this is the perfect time for them to scam senior citizens through phishing and malware attacks.”

Here are five ways seniors can protect their privacy while online:

Safe Surfing

  • Consider trying a private search engine.  Startpage, a private search engine founded in 2006, helps to provide a safe internet surfing experience.

“When most of us search the Internet, we are using a non-private search engine by default,” Startpage CEO Robert Beens told Digital Privacy News. “But when we do this, we leave a lot of our personal information behind.

“A private search engine will keep your personal data from being captured by tech companies, and worse yet, scammers.”

Online Banking

  • Make sure you are dealing with your institution. If you receive an e-mail from your bank that appears normal, but they are requesting you to update your account credentials, it is most likely a scam. Before clicking on any links, call the bank first.  

Understand Privacy Settings

  • Double check your privacy settings. Seniors are the fastest-growing social media segment, the Pew Research Center reports, and almost 49% of them now are on social media. By understanding your privacy settings, you will protect yourself from scammers.

Avoiding Scams

  • Consider the source. Oftentimes, a hacker is trying to get you to respond to their bait.

For example, you may receive an email from the IRS or Social Security, but it is most likely fraudulent.  Both agencies initially will reach out via regular mail.

Heinan Landa, CEO and founder of Optimal Networks Inc. in Rockville, Maryland, cautioned seniors “to be wary of any form of online communication that requires you to click on a link or download an attachment.”  

Social Media

  • Protect your passwords. Update your passwords frequently, and don’t share your account information. While it might be tempting to share passwords to streaming services and social media, your personal login should remain private.

John Riddle is a writer in Bear, DE.

Source: Pew Research (external link)