More and more seniors are getting online. It’s a great way to simplify banking and shopping, to learn new things, and to keep in touch with friends and family. Nevertheless, internet use doesn’t come without a few dangers. Here are seven things you should never do online when you are a senior:

Blindly Trust Email Correspondence from your Bank
Scammers have developed emails and websites that look remarkably similar to those of your bank and may ask you to confirm banking details in order to “verify” or “transfer” your account. Always view with suspicion any email correspondence you get regarding your finances. Banks don’t generally ask for account details or passwords over email. It may be legitimate but if you’re in any doubt, contact a branch of your bank and ask for their advice.

Browse the Internet Without Virus Protection
Browsing the internet can open your computer and your data up to viruses. These viruses can prevent your computer from working properly. They may also be used to extract data from your computer – data that can be used to set up fake identities or make online purchases. Install recommended virus protection or check that your computer already has something set up before heading online.

Make Purchases on an Unsecured Website
Internet shopping has never been easier. But you need to know that the websites you’re buying from are reputable. If not, you could be handing over your bank card details to someone who will use it for their own gain. Secured websites have addresses that start with “https”. There should be a padlock symbol in the browser, where you’ll find the website address. And when you click on the padlock an up-to-date security certificate registered to the correct address should appear.

Buy Medical Products from the Internet
There are a number of websites out there offering remarkable cures for common ailments. But these fake pharmacies are scams selling and delivering poor quality or, in some cases, harmful medication. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Save your money and avoid buying medications or health products over the internet.

Download from a Torrent without a VPN
Torrents provide downloads of movies, TV shows, games, music, and computer programs. It’s a bit of a legal grey area. Therefore, if you do use a torrent to download files, never do so without first signing up for a VPN. A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. It allows you to send and receive data across the internet securely and directly.

Respond to an Email with Personal Details
Email scams are common. Some are easy to spot. However, it’s also possible for hackers to send a fake email from one of your contacts making the scam harder to detect. These scams often claim that a friend or loved one of your contacts is in trouble and they need to borrow money in order to help them. Never respond to any email, however convincing, with personal or banking details.

Trust Everyone You Meet on Social Media
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with loved ones and even meet someone new. Unfortunately, scammers also use social media to prey on the unsuspecting. They strike up a conversation and build a relationship over a few weeks. They then use this relationship to pursue unsavory motives – getting you to send them money or arranging to meet in person. Don’t trust everyone you meet on social media, always go with a friend if you intend to meet someone for the first time in person, and seek the advice of friends and relatives if a relationship seems a little fishy.

Getting online can open up a whole new world of fun, information, and friendship. Just remember these tips to keep yourself, your data, and your computer safe from harm.

Sarah Kearns is a hard-working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb and BizDb.co.nz, online resources with information about businesses. She loves cooking, reading history books, and writing about green living.

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