Why would a 55+ builder care to talk about cyber security?
Maybe we just want to afford a house from us instead of buying some stranger from Nigeria a new house instead.
Most of us are now familiar with the internet. There are still a few seniors who are trying to wrap their minds around the idea of smartphones, but most of us have some understanding now, whether we choose to use it or not.
But there are a few pitfalls that even the savvier internet dwellers don’t consider. These mistakes could cost you money and peace of mind.
For some reason, a large chunk of the online crime is targeted towards the aging population.
Don’t be duped. There’s a few things you can do to protect yourself.
Are you using the internet, or is it using you?
The internet is a difficult place to police. It’s global and anonymous. It is the wild-wild west of our era. Unfortunately, there are few Wyatt Earp’s to keep the peace. Those who are out there trying to protect us, can only do so much.
While there is some risk of running afoul some quick-draw keyboard crazies, the internet shouldn’t be a scary place. Still, there’s a few things you need to know to protect the safe-box of your electronic stagecoach.
How to buy things online
I’m not an expert when it comes to online shopping. I’ve never been burned too badly by crooks online. I’m sure they’re out there, but people who get return business tend to make more money than people who must shut down their storefront every time they rip someone off.
While I’m sure this still happens, I don’t often see it.
The internet is a great place for learning information. You can almost get a technical degree in some fields just by surfing the web now. Of course you need to be careful of the source, but there’s a lot of free advice out there.
There’s also a lot of not-so-free stuff on the internet. Even the free stuff tends to push some kind of sale on you. This isn’t bad, as long as it provides value to you and you want what is being offered.
No doubt, you’ve heard of some of the bigger online stores now, like Amazon, Ebay. Big name stores are pretty safe to trust. There are also a lot of smaller companies, even individuals who have internet stores online. Many of them are pretty good as well. Size isn’t the only indicator of trustworthy companies.
Now you could limit all your online shopping to stores you’re familiar with. Most of them now have an online presence. Many even offer good deals on shipping. While this helps their businesses, I’m guessing that cardboard box manufacturers and UPS are the true winners from this trend.
As far as warnings go, watch out for deals that seem too good to be true.
Watch out for stores that don’t have an “https” at the front of the web address. (Though most now have this. It lets you know that the store is able to encrypt or mostly protect your online transaction information.)
I used to never buy from a store that didn’t display this “https”, but just because it’s there, doesn’t meant that a crook can’t encrypt his storefront either. It just prevents other crooks from seeing your financial transaction.
Also, use your credit card. If by chance your bank card info gets stolen, credit card companies are much better at getting your money back than bank debit cards.
This is probably the scariest place to be. I’ve heard experts warn, never to trust an email. If you weren’t expecting the email, be very cautious.
Most of us can’t get by without our emails anymore. This however has become the biggest target for scammers. Even the fraudulent emails look more legitimate now than they used to.
Big Red Flags:
If the email is from someone you don’t know, and it has an attachment or link in the email: NEVER click on it. It may take you to some dummy website, or download a PDF file to your computer, but at the same time, it is most likely downloading a little virus onto your computer that allows the hacker access.
When you’re surfing the internet, if you see an advertisement that does not lead you to a website, but instead takes you to a PDF style document, that could also be trouble.
Even links within bogus websites might install viruses into your computer. Moral of this: don’t click on stuff unless you know and trust the sender/provider.
If you get an email that you’re not sure about, look them up. If it’s someone you know, but you weren’t expecting an email from them, call them before you click on their attachments. Luckily, you’re of a generation that still knows how to use a phone.
I’ve called several colleagues about random emails before, only for them to realize that they’d been hacked.
By calling them, you can verify the email as legitimate, or help them realize that they have a problem.
Once you’ve opened a fraudulent email attachment or link, your computer will likely be infected. Someone could sneak onto your computer, without you ever knowing it, and steal your personal information or find others through you that they can target also.
Last of all, don’t respond to unsolicited offers. You are not the winner of a mint condition antique Rolls Royce in Uganda for any reason. You did not win an All-paid vacation to (insert destination), especially when you didn’t even apply for it.
The dumbest scams will ask you for your information, and or money. If they contacted you, they already should have your information. If they want to send you five hundred pounds of gold bullion, they can afford the shipping costs. Western Union is for sending money to family or friends, never to strangers.
Be careful, but don’t hide in a box
There are plenty of ways that you can trip up on the internet. Simple common sense will keep you out of 95% of the problems. There are people who’s full-time endeavors are to take advantage of you.
I wish that I could go over all the ways you can get into trouble and how you can avoid them, but I don’t know them all. I’ve collected these few tips over the years, but it never hurts to be on your guard. Do a little research. This is just an intro to web security.
You take time to lock your house at night. So take a little time to research cyber security. Be safe out there.
If you doubt a website or email, don’t entertain it.
Having said this, don’t hide either. The whole world is online now and they’re not likely to unplug, ever. Learning to navigate safely is important. Sticking your head in the sand is not a good plan.
P.S. I hope you’re not reading this on “Chromium.” It may pretend to be part of Google’s Chrome web browser, but it is not. It’s just another trick by crooks to gain access to your information.
Good luck. I hope this helps.
Disclaimer: I am not a internet security expert. Any advice given here is not a definitive guide on cyber security.