Research shows that seniors today have more access than ever to the internet. This includes the use of smartphones, tablets and even computers. As technology becomes easier to use, there have been many devices that have specifically marketed to the senior generation, in hopes that they will not feel left out of the information age. With this, however, comes risk. As seniors dive into the world wide web, their identity information is at risk for hackers and thieves. So, how do we keep seniors safe from identity theft? Read on!
1. Keep All Devices Updated
Seniors may not be familiar or aware of the importance of things like regular system updates. Help them to understand the best practices of staying safe by showing them what to do when an update request pops up on the screen. They could either learn to do it themselves or perhaps they could just bring it to a loved one or caregiver to help them through this process.
Keeping updates flowing will ensure the safety and security of things like identity theft, MUCH better than without! Cyber threats are real, and the cyber thieves who are lurking are preying on the senior generation, assuming that they don't know how to avoid risk factors for identity theft.
Most devices nowadays come with security features like unlocking the screen with fingerprint scanners or facial recognition. You should also have an app for them that helps locate the device if it’s lost or stolen.
2. Look Out for Scams.
Personal information is stolen or hacked in many ways, and the bad guys are getting sneakier all the time. Teach your senior loved one the basics of staying safe, such as not clicking on any link they don’t recognize. If they aren’t sure if it’s a fake website or not, the address should be typed manually into a web browser to see if it comes up. Clicking on links in emails is never a good idea, as the link itself will take them to a computer virus or other malware. The key here is to not click on links, even if the source looks legit, like a bank or medical office.
Also, it’s not a good idea to click on pop-up ads, as they too may contain malware that is designed to steal sensitive information from the device.
3. Keep Your Medical Information Protected.
Most criminals in the cyber world will go after medical info before they attempt anything else. Most hospitals and other institutions will identify their patients through a social security number. These numbers are of immense value to the scammer who knows it can be linked to just about any financial or medical information connected the number. Although it’s very easy and convenient to rely on digital records through a patient portal, etc., you should ask for proof that it is being properly secured and protected.
It could even affect the treatment received in an emergency if the medical records have a cyber-criminal mixed in with the actual patient.
To keep the risk of identity theft as low as possible, teach your senior loved one a couple of helpful tips:
- Always look at medical bills and make sure they aren’t being charged for a service or treatment they did not receive.
- Know what the benefit limit is with their insurance. If they suddenly reach that limit before it’s expected, that should be investigated.
- Don’t just accept it if they are denied coverage for a common or familiar condition that should be covered. Always check with the insurance company to be sure!
Unfortunately, seniors are often targeted by identity thieves because they are easy prey. They often have good credit ratings, financial security, or simply due to the fact that cybercriminals know that seniors are the least likely group of people to actually know what to look for and how to avoid being scammed. In other words, the bad guys are banking on the technology-based ignorance of the older population.
Always shred sensitive information and go with automatic deposits whenever possible. This cuts down on the number of paper documents that store private info. There are many companies now who specialize in identity-theft monitoring just for seniors!
For more information on keeping your senior loved one safe from identity theft online, contact us today!
Home Helpers of Billings is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour care and live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Billings, Laurel, Lockwood, Roundup, Huntley, Sheperd, Park City, Columbus, Red Lodge, Absarokee, Fishtail, Roberts, Worden, Joliet, Custer, Colstrip, Hysham, Molt, Roscoe, and Bridger, Montana.
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