Time for Holiday Shopping: Stay Safe Online with These Tips

The Internet contains information on many, many topics. It’s a vast, valuable environment, but it can be very dangerous if you’re not prepared. The National Council on Aging says “Internet Fraud” is the sixth most popular scam perpetrated against older adults.

There are many ways to be safe online, and one of the best is by creating and using a strong passwords. Many websites, like ecommerce websites, require passwords. To create a strong password—one that’s difficult for others to guess—I recommend using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, such as a “?” or “$” sign. Your password should be at least eight characters long. In addition, don’t use the same password for every website.

It’s also critical to make sure you know who you’re dealing with when online. You can do this by going to reputable, well-known websites, whether you’re looking to buy something, want to read the news or watch videos.

Email scams remain extremely popular among thieves looking to steal personal information, including credit card and social security numbers, your name and address, and medical information. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know or a company you don’t usually do business with, delete it. Don’t click on links in these emails and don’t open any attachments. Links will likely take you to a rogue website and attachments, when opened, can infect your computer with viruses or malware, which cause computer problems.

If you’re still unsure about using the Internet, get in touch with a web-savvy family member or trusted friend. Most people are very willing to share their knowledge and help others learn more about safely accessing the Internet. In addition, if you spend time at an adult day program or have a library nearby many have computer cafes and staff knowledgeable about using the Internet.

By taking a few steps you can have a safe, fun and successful web experience.

Todd Gipson, an expert in online security, is director of Information Security at InnovAge

This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.

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