Blog post by Marc Brown, October 2021
At one point in my career, I worked in sales. I, along with the other salesmen, received a weekly salary plus commission. I recall a time when I watched a colleague hard at work pitching the company’s products and services to an older woman. Although on a fixed income, the woman proceeded and made a significant purchase. Note, she met the criteria to make the purchase even if she didn’t understand the dynamics of the financial commitment.
Once I learned the sales transaction was over and that she signed a contract, I cringed. I remember thinking how I’d feel if she were my mother or grandmother – sister or aunt. It just didn’t sit well with me, but there was nothing I could do. Afterwards, I wondered if the lady experienced “buyer’s remorse” – now stuck in contractual agreement that she probably did not read, for products and services that were highly overrated and highly overpriced. The salesman knew it, too! This was INTENTIONAL. Bullying. Scamming. Although this was not an online scam, it occurred to me that older adults are certainly at greater risks today of becoming victims of cybercrimes now that society – dare I say the world- uses the internet more than ever before.
Why target the elderly? What is it about them that makes them a high priority for hackers? Could it be that many seniors have built a lifetime of savings, and hackers hope to tap in? Or could it be that hackers see older adults as easy targets due to increased vulnerability, loneliness, and a lack of technology prowess? Certainly, the reasons are many and will vary!
So, how do we stay safe online? Be aware of best practices to maintain online safety. Enroll in classes that teach you how to prevent cybercrimes from happening to you. Start with Oasis Connections classes. Here, you will learn strategies from expert instructors to help prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage of you, while increasing your technology skills. Visit the Oasis Connections website for details, https://connections.oasisnet.org/. Register today and start protecting yourself and loved ones from internet scammers, hackers, phishing schemes, and more!
Here’s a few tips from STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to compromise your information. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or – if appropriate – mark it as junk.
- Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true or asks for personal information.
- Make your passphrase a sentence: A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!
- Unique account, unique passphrase: Having separate passphrases for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passphrases.
- Lock down your login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passphrases are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.