According to the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, “each year, older Americans lose approximately $3 billion to an ever-growing number of financial scams.”
Scammers that target aging individuals know that they are less likely to report the crime than other demographics. Maggie Fitzgerald, contributor to CNBC, states, “more than 1,500 seniors across the country contacted the committee’s fraud hotline in 2018; however, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a recent testimony that only 1 in every 24 cases of elder exploitation gets reported.”
The reason for this is that many individuals feel embarrassed when they fall victim to an online scam. As a result, they say nothing, let the crime go unnoticed, and take the loss. There is nothing to be embarrassed about if you or someone you know has been affected by fraudulent activity, and the best thing you can do is report the incident. By doing so, you can resolve your situation and help prevent future online scams from affecting others.
Protecting yourself and your personal information is the best way to prevent online scams and other fraudulent activity from affecting you. Community Senior Life has senior living communities throughout Alabama and Florida and protecting our residents and their families is one of our top priorities. As you ramp up your spending this holiday season, we want to share some online shopping safety tips.
Only Buy from Secure Retailers
Nowadays, you can find just about anything online. With this being said, it is important that you conduct your shopping through websites that you are already familiar with and trust.
Beware of websites that look like the brand you know but are slightly off. For example, the real website you are searching for ends in “.com,” but the website you are on ends in “.net.” This type of misleading behavior is common in email scams. You may receive an email from your favorite store announcing a sale, but it sends you to a “dummy” site instead. The simple step of double-checking the domain can save you money and hassle.
Additionally, look for websites starting with “https” as opposed to “http.” According to Webroot, “that little ‘s’ tells you the website is secure and encrypted to protect your information (this is crucial for any site that asks for banking or credit card information!).
Place Orders from a Secure Connection
Whenever possible, it is best to avoid online shopping in public places. Even though it is convenient to place orders while sitting in your favorite coffee shop, this setting also makes it easy for scammers to get ahold of your information.
If you must conduct your online shopping in public, be sure that you use a secure network connection, such as the personal hotspot on your phone. Never enter your personal information when you are using a public network connection.
Use a Credit Instead of Debit
This online shopping safety tip benefits you in two ways. When you use a credit card, you are essentially using the bank’s money before you pay it back. Because it is their money, the bank will fight against scams and fraudulent charges more aggressively. This means more insurance and protection for you.
The second reason you should use a credit card for your online shopping is that it does not link directly to your bank account. Every time you use your debit card, the funds are pulled directly from your checking account. If a scammer gets ahold of this information, it is much easier for them to access additional information. Using a credit card provides you with an additional layer of security.
Create Strong Passwords for Online Account
If you have to create an account for an online retailer, make sure your password is unique to that website. Never use the same password for more than one account. This makes your information less secure.
Tips for creating a strong password include:
- Using a mix of lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and symbols
- Making your password at least 12 characters long
- Avoiding the use of obvious personal information (such as your birthdate)
- Using nonsense phrases that do not show up together in the dictionary
Shopping online is a convenient way to get everything you need delivered straight to your door, and in a time of continued social distancing and health concerns, online shopping has been a lifesaver. Community Senior Life welcomes this convenience but also understands the importance of online safety and security.
To learn more about our senior living communities in Fairhope, Foley, Gulf Shores, Madison, Montgomery, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, we invite you to visit our website.