Were you shocked when your grandma got a Facebook account? Or are you surprised by the number of email forwards you get from your Great Uncle? Well today’s retirees are embracing technology, and are specifically becoming more and more comfortable using the internet. But that level of comfort comes with a level of caution (and a little healthy suspicion) that baby boomers may not have.
All internet users must be careful sharing sensitive personal information online. Boomers, who may be new to online activities and computer use in general, may not know what to look out for and may be particularly vulnerable to identity theft online. Because of that, they be may be specifically targeted by scammers and thieves. Unfortunately, scammers are beginning to target the Boomer demographic. In order to reduce your risks of being another victim of the Boomer phase, you need to take the proper preemptive steps by signing up for some sort of ID theft protection service. They typically cost no more than $5-10 per month – but the peace of mind it gives you is certainly priceless.
Identity theft solutions range from purchasing services and products that monitor your credit, to taking simple steps to protect yourself. Here are some of the easy best practices to prevent yourself from falling victim to an identity scam:
- Boomers should be cautious about clicking on links in emails. Even if an email looks (and reads) like it’s coming from a trusted friend or family member, emails asking for personal information, or with suspicious links, may not actually be from the person you think. A friend’s email account could have been hacked, and the email might not be from your friend at all. If you get an email from a family member asking you for personal information, call your loved one and give them the info either in person or over the phone.
- Never give out personal information. Ever received an email from your bank or a credit card company saying that they need to recover missing information? These emails usually contain links for you to “update your information.” Do not click on these links. These are fake emails, set up to look like legitimate ones (and often times they do look very authentic). Just remember that a legitimate company will never contact you that way asking for personal information. If you ever do get an email like this, and aren’t sure what to do, just call your bank or credit card company. Or, type the web address of the company directly in your browser and enter your log-in information from their homepage.
Here are a few other ID Theft Protection tips from Equifax:
- Check banking statements frequently to catch any issues right away.
- Use complicated passwords, don’t duplicate passwords (use variations for each online account), never share your passwords with others and change your passwords regularly.
- Be careful with what you do while using public WiFi. Unsecured WiFi connections leave your information open to anyone, so account information, log-ins, passwords, and even the files on your computer can be seen by hackers.
I encourage my visitors to comment on any type of experience you may have had dealing with online thieves – particularly involving identity fraud. This is a probably one of the most financially devastating types of online scamming going around. To add salt to the wound, the victims being targeted are our brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters. This is not right! Speak up if you have been a victim so others can learn from your experience, and also so that we can hold these scammers RESPONSIBLE.