Seniors and Online Transactions
Most transactions are now made online, from shopping for new clothes to paying the bills. It’s just so much more accessible and the results are also faster to check. That’s why most people, including seniors, are encouraged to commit to online transactions, instead of running all over town running errands. They can stay in the comfort of their own home while doing their to-do lists.
This actually means they don’t have to overwork themselves – driving for the smallest of things like groceries when they can get them delivered. For seniors suffering from mobility issues, this approach is a godsend. Seniors are also able to do more things at once, such as paying multiple bills that they would have gone to individual companies for. That gives them more time and energy to do things they actually like doing, like traveling or getting into a new hobby.
The Perils of Online Transactions
Generally, online transactions give you more freedom, especially when it comes doing routine things quickly and effectively. However, there are dangers that come with using this medium and understanding them will help seniors better protect themselves.
Online transaction fraud is wide-reaching, from pretending to be a legitimate business with a product or service to get payments from clients to stealing information from people on their site. They can steal something as basic as your personal information, like your name and contact number, to something more elaborate and disastrous, like your credit card or social security number. Some even steal entire identities and live as different people.
How can seniors protect themselves?
Here are some things you can try to make sure you’re doing protecting your online transactions:
- Choose strong passwords and pin numbers
Although it’s understandable that you want passwords and pins you will remember – especially if you’re memory diminishes, they should not be at the expense of your security. You can ask your children or your primary caregiver to help you secure these passwords, if need be.
Do not fall into the cliché of using your birthday, anniversary or house number as your pin code for any online accounts or transactions. You’re making the guesswork so easy for perpetrators who want to take advantage of your online presence. If you maintain social media accounts – like Facebook, to keep up-to-date with your kids, pick passwords that are based on experiences only you will remember rather than generic ones.
Some of the most common generic passwords are names of pets, siblings, cities you lived or still live in and schools you attended. Opt instead for random or deeply personal words and combine them with numbers and symbols. The same goes for your email address.
- Protect your computer
It’s just as easy to infiltrate your account as it is to hack the computer you’re using and work back from there. That way, whoever is trying to get information or access your online accounts, can see your daily activities, fish for passwords and copy what they need to get what they want out of your laptop or personal computer. To make sure that doesn’t happen, install any reliable antivirus program to make sure that your computer is protected. It makes sure that no one is tracking you as you make online transactions – especially those related to money.
- Check your finances and account regularly for anomalies.
Most dubious online transactions take too long to be noticed because seniors don’t keep track of the activities on their accounts or the bills they get because of it. It’s exponentially worse if you do keep track, but do not know the difference what valid expense looks like or what a safe site is.
For online payments, make sure that you only use them when they have a lock symbol on the browser frame. That should appear before the textbox where the URL is. The address itself should carry an “https://”, which means secure. For online transactions with a paper trail, make sure to keep list of expenses you incurred and when you made them, then compare it to the record of payments you have to make on your bill.
- Report identity theft
The moment you notice that there’s something off about your account, ask your bank immediately. If not, inquire with the site that you supposedly made that transaction on. This puts an immediate stop to future fraudulent transactions, heightens the propensity of catching the perpetrator and pushes for the investigation of the previous charges.
Why the vigilance
Even if a lot of the schemes have been revealed, there are more being made every day. That’s both the boon and bane of technology. It makes most processes, like shopping online and paying bills, easy, but it also means intercepting those transactions easier. Thievery can occur online when you shop or through hacking your emails and other personal information available online. That’s why you also have to be proactive in protecting your online transactions, especially if you’re a novice user.