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Cheat Sheet

Using the Internet Safely For Seniors For Dummies

From Using the Internet Safely For Seniors For Dummies by Nancy C. Muir, Linda Criddle

The Internet has changed the way we do everything. But those seniors who didn't grow up with computers might be scared away from the Web by stories of online fraud and identity theft. Don't think that it's just you against the Internet; Internet safety for seniors doesn't have to be a big deal. Here are some helpful tips and Web sites you can use to be a safe, effective online user.

Online Safety Web Sites

A number of Web-sites are dedicated to Internet safety. These Web sites can help you understand online risks, such as identity theft and scams, and can help you generally be a safer online consumer:

  • LOOKBOTHWAYS offers blogs and step-by-step procedures to help you stay safer. Keep up with the latest online risks and gain skills to be a safer online consumer. The Ask Linda feature lets you ask safety questions at any time for expert advice.

  • Fighting Back Against Identity Theft is a site from the Federal Trade Commission that guides you through the process of deterring ID thieves, detecting ID theft, and defending yourself against it.

  • The National Fraud Information Center’s site lets you look up the latest online scams, under the theory that knowledge is power. It also has an online complaint form that you can use to inform them of bad experiences you’ve had with online spammers or scammers.

  • The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start in identifying online stores that are safe to do business with.

  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission site is a good place to get information to help you protect your investments and access investment calculators.

  • CNET is a good site for reading reviews of products from their editors and users before making your online purchase. CNET has a strong focus on electronics and technology, so if you’re thinking of buying a computer, this is a good source of information.

How to Become Safer Online

The Internet is an amazing tool, but it poses some safety risks. Before you start "surfing the net," use these tips for being a safe, smart online user:

  • Create stronger passwords. Create passwords that aren’t easy to guess, and don’t share them with others.

  • Don’t expose personal information. Be aware of how much of your personal or financial data you might be sharing with strangers on social networking sites, through e-mail, and on special-interest sites.

  • Don’t fall for e-mail scams. Online criminals may use e-mail to get your personal information and steal your identity. Or an e-mail might entice you to click a link that takes you to a bogus site or downloads malware (malicious software) to your computer.

  • Know who you’re doing business with. It’s quick and easy to create a Web site that looks legit, but not all Web sites are.

  • Be cautious with e-mail attachments. Attached files may contain malware, which can damage your computer — or it may install code that can track your activities

  • Use software to avoid malware. Several types of software products can spot and avoid viruses, spyware, and objectionable online content. Make sure you use protection.

  • Create safe e-mail aliases and usernames. Whether you're creating an e-mail account or a user account on a social networking or special-interest site, be careful how much information you give away even in your usename.

  • Find out how others might expose you. Even if you never go online, your information is probably out there. Learn to identify your exposure and stop others from revealing personal information.

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