Associate Care Manager Gregory Peebles returns with a series on the Internet and older adults. Gregory is both a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) whose work focuses on helping aging adults and folks with limited independence by providing resources and support to help them discover and lead their best life. Gregory has been a part of CCM, Inc. for over a decade. – Charlotte
The Internet is a safe place if you know how to navigate is safely. It’s user-friendly if, like the youngest generation, you grew up using it all the time. Most, however, have not had that advantage. We learned on our own, and any self-taught amateur will tell you that without a teacher, you can learn a lot of things wrong.
There’s no shortage of helpful information on scams directed at older adults who have ventured onto the Internet. At CCM, we try to feature this type of content as it becomes available. Today’s post, however, is about common, globally unsafe habits from which we’ve witnessed our clients and their families struggle to recover.
Have these conversations with your older loved one before you have to clean up a digital mess or reclaim a stolen identity.
- Passwords. Plural. There should be a different password for each online account, and they should change with some frequency. It’s annoying, but at least it’s easy. You know the “best practices” – upper and lower case letters, numbers and even the “other” characters (@, #, etc.).
- The Not-So-Funny Joke Forward. Sometimes a dangerous link gets inserted into those joke message forwards. Anyone curious/unlucky enough to click on it gets a nasty surprise. Tell your loved ones Don’t click on links unless they are in a personally directed communication from a trusted source.
- Oversharing. Social media encourage us to tell everyone everything, first among which is how we feel, where we are, what we’re doing. Older adults – not as fluent in the standard practices of safety – are most likely to fall prey to those seeking to benefit from oversharing, an example of which might include updating a status about leaving town for a while. Predators are looking for exactly this type of information, especially if they know their prey’s address already.
- Oversharing: The Sequel. Similarly, older adults are much more likely to give out personal information casually in a public forum (as in a comment). Not only will it overwhelm your loved one with junk mail, placing them at higher risk for scams, but someone looking to take advantage can get an incredible amount of information from just a name, a phone number, and an email address.
- Shopping the Black Market. Non-secure websites don’t even pretend to protect your information. How can you tell if a website is secure? Nothing is 100%, but if the URL you’re shopping at does not begin with [https:], leave immediately. The extra “s” is for “secured”, and without it, online shopping becomes a huge risk. Noting this one thing can save lots of money and trouble.
Internet safety could be its own series, but with these five tips, we’re confident your loved one will be safe exploring all the Internet has to offer.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.