Online shopping has been growing in popularity over the past few years, however, with the increased lockdown procedures of COVID-19 online shopping has become more popular than ever. People are spending more time shopping online to stay safe rather than doing it in-store. This is a great way to physically distance and stay safe from catching the coronavirus but there are disadvantages to predominantly shopping online. One is that there are cybercriminals who would take advantage of online shoppers through a variety of different schemes. All people, especially seniors who are not tech-savvy, must be on the lookout for suspicious scams and prepare themselves in advance so that they are not taken advantage of.
Having a secure passphrase or password is the first step to ensure the security of your financial accounts. When creating a password, be mindful that the most secure password will have approximately 15 characters in length. A good tip is to have a passphrase which is a series of four words, for example: “moonskystarlight”. Another effective tip is to use a different password for every account. If you use the same password for each account, then cybercriminals who may find one password on a less secure account, for example a grocery store, may also be able to use that password for your banking information. Using different passwords and more complex passwords for important accounts, such as your banking information, will safeguard your financial accounts. If you have difficulty remembering all your passwords for your different accounts, it is important to store them in a secure password manager, which is software that securely encrypts your passwords so only you have access to them when you need to. For seniors who are not tech-savvy, another good option is to write down your passwords and usernames in a secure journal which you keep hidden in your home.
For important accounts such as banking information or other financial and legal accounts, there may be access to multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication uses two different methods for verifying that it is you. One example of this is when your bank account may ask for the password as well as text your phone for a four-digit number code to insert. Having a multi-factor authentication process diminishes the risk of someone being able to hack your password because even if they receive your password, they will still not be able to get into your important accounts because they will not have access to your phone.
Phishing scams are techniques that cybercriminals use that involves sending messages or phone calls that are made to look or seem like they are from people or companies you work with. Cybercriminals will attempt to communicate to you in a way that may seem like they are legitimate to take advantage of you and receive personal information that can allow them permission to your financial or legal accounts. If you receive a suspicious email, phone call or text, there are a few techniques that you can do to make sure you are safeguarding your information.
Step 1: Take a pause.
cybercriminals will phrase emails and messages in a way that makes them appear to be urgent or an emergency. They will often threaten you to respond quickly and thus in your panic state make you easier to manipulate. So, take a breath and think logically about how best to address the situation.
Step 2: Do not open suspicious emails.
If you are unsure about the legitimacy of any message do not open the email or any attachments. Make sure you reach out differently to ensure authenticity. If it seems like your “bank” requires urgent information from you over email, do not email them back instead call your bank directly or go into your home branch.
Step 3: Safeguard your password.
Unless you have requested to reset your password, any message asking to reset passwords is likely fake. Do not click on the link to reset your password in the email, instead go directly to the website itself.
Step 4: Delete suspicious messages.
Delete any suspicious messages you may receive, whether they are urging you to act or telling you have won the lottery. Deleting those emails will keep you and your accounts safe.
Ensure that you are taking these steps to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of cybercriminals. Phishing and over predatory techniques can damage your financial and legal accounts. Staying calm and assessing suspicious messages can help prepare you to safeguard your accounts. Always task another family member for advice if you are unsure of the legitimacy of a message and directly contact any company through their website or public number to ensure authenticity.
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