Beware! Internet could prove a cobweb for elderly

By Himanshu Rath

Nearly 75 percent of Americans over 65 years of age are Internet users and their number is getting bigger with time, and for good reason. For an increasing number of seniors, it’s also a way to stay in the workforce and start a new career or business. And some older people go online to make new friends and find new partners through online chatting.

The reasons older people go online are as varied as the users themselves. Major reasons include – participating in social, religious, and cultural activities; keeping in touch with loved ones, old friends, and relatives; meeting and chatting with new friends or romantic partners; online banking, shopping, gaming, investing, making tours, and travel arrangements, getting medical advice and information including doctor reports and test results, getting financial, investment related and legal tips, sharing and viewing pictures; exploring and sharing political views, etc.

For better or worse, old-fashioned letters have been largely replaced by email. And thanks to social networking services like Facebook, it’s easier than ever to keep up with your friends, family, and relatives, and let them keep up with you. Social media allows you to exchange ideas, photos, and videos, and even plan events with friends and family living far away.

Here are some precautions, and safety tips to help keep you safe:

Use strong passwords

Use strong and unique passwords “never” share your passwords. Include numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols, and do not use names or dictionary words. A password in Hindi fonts or any other Indian language with a number combination would be more secure.

Don’t click on links in email or on social media Never click on links sent by banks, credit card companies, government agencies, or other organizations, unless you’re 100 percent certain they are legitimate.

Be wary of phishing

There is a common scam, called phishing, where someone sends you a link to what looks like a legitimate website, but it’s actually a scam site created by criminals to steal your login or other personal information.

Be wary of any offer that’s too good to be true Be especially careful about offers for low-cost medications or medical coverage.

Shop only at reputable online merchants

Be careful about any online merchant that you have never heard of. Many are legitimate but some might be out to steal your credit card number or other financial information, or simply fail to deliver what you’ve paid for.

When shopping or banking look for secure websites

Websites with an https in the browser’s address bar are considered secure. The “s” stands for “secure.” If it’s just http, it’s not a secure site. If you shop or bank using a mobile app, be sure it was issued by that company.

Use credit cards if possible

Otherwise use debit cards or safe online payment services, such as Paypal. Never send cash, or cashier’s checks. It’s best to use a credit card because, if there is a dispute, the credit card company will stop the charge or refund your money while they investigate your claim.

Be careful before you click

There are certain things that you may not be able to undo, such as buying or selling the wrong stock or buying a non-refundable flight or hotel room. Carefully review all transactions before confirming them.

Research before donating online

Crowd-funding sites are great places to be among the first supporters or purchasers of new products, donate to worthy causes and organizations, and even provide financial support for people with a compelling need, but you should proceed with caution.

Protect against identity theft

Never enter your Social Security number online unless you know you are at a legitimate site that has a real need for that information, such as applying for a bank account, credit card, or loan (from a legitimate financial institution), or getting a credit report. Only disclose credit card numbers to legitimate online merchants.

Monitor your online financial accounts Look for the recent activity to be sure that there are no fraudulent charges to your credit, debit, or bank accounts. Check your online investment accounts to make sure there has been no unauthorized activity.

(The writer is the head of the Agewell Foundation USA Inc. It is a 501(c)(3) registered Non-Profit initiative, committed to working for the welfare of destitute Old People desperately needing assistance.)

For more info, contact: [email protected], WhatsApp: +919810030979, Address: Agewell Foundation USA Inc., 62W 47th ST STE 707, New York, NY-10036,

Images courtesy of (Image Courtesy: BGR India) and Provided

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