Advice for Silver Surfers – Keeping Safe Online

Being introduced to computers later in life can leave some older users vulnerable to the fraudsters and opportunists that have forged a dishonest living online. The internet is a wonderful thing and not just for millennials! For our clients, friends and followers, we have put together some helpful tips to help keep savvy silver surfers safe when using computers and the internet.

Passwords 

First things first, make sure that you have a strong password on your computer and for anything online where you need to sign in. A strong password is slightly longer than a normal word and uses different types of characters i.e. letters (upper and lowercase), numbers and special characters such as question marks. A good general rule is for the password to be at least 8 characters in length and for it to include at least one of each of the above.

It’s important to pick a word (or random collection of characters) that no one would guess easily. Popular passwords are are ‘123456’ and ‘password’. We definitely don’t recommend using these! We also don’t recommend using your name or your birthday either.

Viruses

Without anti-virus software in place hackers can access information on your computer. This can be anything from passwords to sensitive personal information. There are several free options out there which can be downloaded online. Just make sure you check the reviews when deciding which package is good for you. It might also be a good idea to ask a computer savvy relative or friend to help with this. Alternatively you can also purchase software from a computer shop where there will be experts on hand to advise you.

Personal Information

In the same way that we are cautious if someone asks for bank details over the phone, we must also be cautious on the internet. If in doubt, don’t pass on any of your personal information. Many internet browsers such as Google Chrome will warn you if it believes a website to be unsafe. Always heed these warnings and do not proceed to these websites. If you are shopping online, make sure that the website address is correct and legitimate by researching reviews online. Look for the https in the browser’s address bar and the padlock icon. The “s” stands for “secure.” If it’s just http, it’s not a secure site.

Scams

An estimated £670 million is lost in online scams every year. Unfortunately there are many different ways that these criminals can con people out of their money or information. Often scammers will contact you by email. Sometimes these emails will be caught by your provider and go straight to the ‘spam’ folder however criminals are getting very clever at circumventing these safeguards. The best advice is to never respond to an email from someone that you don’t know. Always check the email address very carefully as sometimes they can be made to look like they came from a name in your address book. Also never click on a suspicious link in an email. This could lead to a virus being downloaded onto your device. If you’re not sure what a suspicious link looks like, just don’t click on any links in your inbox that you weren’t expecting or aren’t from somebody you know.

Another common scam targeted at vulnerable people are so-called relationship scams. This is where an unknown person poses as a person interested in you romantically (on a dating site or by email) and very quickly asks for you to send them money. These fraudsters can be very convincing and will always have a sob story ready to coerce you into parting with your hard earned money.

Our CareAngels Can Help!

We know that this can all sound a bit complicated and scary but as long as you are using the internet with your wits about you, there’s no reason to be worried. If in doubt, ignore it or abandon ship! If you’d like any further information, Age UK have some great resources on their website or you can ask our CareAngels to help you next time they make a visit.

Carers helping with using a laptop