Internet safety tips for older adults
Dawn Hippensteel MS, BSN, RN, CCRN, GCNS | 11.12.13
Dawn Hippensteel MS, BSN, RN, CCRN, GCNS
Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist; PinnacleHealth
The Internet can be a place to gather excellent information. It can be a fun place to stay connected with family through e-mail, blogs or social media like Facebook. My older neighbors love the activity of online games, and they stay in touch with their grandchildren.
But, the Internet can be full of dangers for the unaware. Two major concerns are privacy and scams.
The important thing to remember with all social media is to keep your privacy settings high and don’t give out personal information. We like to talk about what we are doing, but if you are going on a trip; don’t post about it until you return. That way you aren’t telling people you won’t be home.
There are many scam artists preying on people through their e-mail or telephone calls. Just 2 weeks ago I received a phone call from “The Government”. The man said I was going to receive thousands of dollars of free grant money and never have to pay it back. I hung up and reported it on the federal trade commission website, www.consumer.ftc.gov. I found it among the scam alerts posted on the site and was amazed how many were listed.
Two questions to ask when searching the Internet are:
1. How do I know what I am reading is from a reliable source (how correct is the information)?
- Government and certain organizations (ending in .gov or .org) are more reliable than .com or .net sites.
- https// indicates a secure site while http// is not. The s only indicates that site is secured not that the information is reliable.
2. If I’m not sure about a phone call or an email; how do I find out if it’s a scam?
- If you are concerned about a possible scam/fraud contact the Federal Trade Commission by phone or e-mail.
Always keep your privacy settings high and don’t give out personal information.
A few more words of caution:
- Reputable e-mails or phone calls will never ask for a user name or password for the account. In addition, there are many fake virus alerts that come through e-mail.
- When it comes to virus protection software, more is not better and having two services may actually lessen effectiveness of each.
- Be cautious of the information you store on social media pages and never store passwords online
Despite these concerns, there are many great Internet sites for older adults.
- Gold Violin - Offers tips and products to help persons with various chronic illnesses remain independent
- SeniorNet - Offers information on computer classes for older adults
- The Dauphin County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) has a great deal of helpful information
"Remember to guard your information well. You can learn how to take advantage of the opportunities without becoming a victim so you can be safe and informed."
Written by Dawn Hippensteel MS, BSN, RN, CCRN, GCNS
Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist
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