For Seniors: Keep Personal Information Safe from Online Criminals - dummies

For Seniors: Keep Personal Information Safe from Online Criminals

By Nancy C. Muir, Linda Criddle

The Internet can provide information about a person’s significant life events — just as newspapers offer birth, wedding, graduation, and obituary announcements. Criminals lurk in both places, online and offline, looking to use personal information to their advantage.

The joy of a wedding, the arrival of a new grandchild, or a death in the family may inspire individuals to share information on publicly viewable registries and memorial sites that they would otherwise keep private.

Follow four simple guidelines for safely sharing joy or grief, in any public online setting:

  • Make a conscious choice about whether you want the site private (only those whom you allow) or public (available to anyone). Then decide what in-formation you want to provide.

  • Let others know your safety boundaries so they can participate online in a way that respects your privacy choices.

  • If you’re too busy, ask a friend to monitor the site for information risks so you can focus on other matters.

  • If you choose to place contact information online, create a separate e-mail address for this purpose to protect your main e-mail address.

Often, people don’t know where to turn when something has gone wrong online. Every website should have an easy-to-find “Report Abuse” feature and a way to contact customer support.

Additionally, if your safety is threatened, or a crime has been committed, contact your local law enforcement office. Public safety personnel will bring in other agencies, if needed.

Immediately report identity theft to your local law enforcement agency, as well as to credit reporting agencies. Learn more about identity theft by visiting the FTC’s Identity Theft website.

Offenders bear complete responsibility for their actions. If you or a loved one have been abused in any way, report it, and get the support you need.