The elderly are targeted by cyber criminals over younger people for two important reasons. They are seen as rich and stupid and so make the perfect marks. Senior citizens have been raised to be polite and to believe what they’re told. In one sense, this belief that people are basically truthful is a lovely thought. However, when it comes to preventing identity theft, no senior citizen should ever believe in the kindness of strangers.
Give Out No Personal Information
Internet scams are the latest incarnation of phone scams. Some thieves still do phone scams. They call your elderly relative claiming to be a bank or the Social Security office and claim that they need some information right away. They may also say that your elderly relative has won a lot of money that needs to be deposited directly into their savings or checking accounts. Mostly, they now do this with email pleas.
Talk to your elderly loved ones about never giving any personal information over the phone or online. You can even keep a list by the phone or on the computer of things they are not to tell anyone. This information includes their bank account numbers, their Social Security number, their passport number, their driver’s license number and any medical insurance information. If you are not sure that your relative can remember to do this, then you should screen their calls.
Your relative may not want to be rude over the phone, even to a person trying to scam them. You can suggest that your loved one tell the scammer to send the information in the mail and you will look at it later.
No Clicking On Spam Email Links
Another thing you can do is talk to your elderly relative about phishing emails. These often claim to be charities, or a bank or a note letting them know that they’ve won an international lottery. If they don’t want to delete these emails, ask them to show you the email first. But make it clear that they should never click on a link in an email that is sent to them as spam.
No File Sharing
If your elderly loved one likes to go on peer to peer networks such as newsgroups and instant messaging, which offers almost real-time conversation and requests to share files. These files could be music, movies, software, images, articles – anything. But they are often just Trojan horses to deliver spyware into your loved one’s computer. You must make it clear that there is to be no file sharing on a peer to peer network.
Your elderly relative may not be too happy with your close supervision. But you can help make your relative a lot safer from identity theft if you keep up to date on security software, including:
- a spam filter
- a firewall
- an anti-virus program
- an anti-spyware program
You also don’t want to ignore any updates of the computer platform, of any media player or the web browser. These updates often include the latest security features.