Did you know that 66 percent of seniors over the age of 65 are Internet users? Using the Internet is a great way to stay up-to-date on current events, stay in touch with loved ones, research medical information, play games, meet new friends and even manage your prescriptions. Another wonderful advantage to using the Internet is the savings and convenience you can enjoy from online shopping and banking. However, with this convenience comes a good amount of risk. Luckily, many of these risks can be minimized by following a few basic rules. Keep reading to learn more about the dangers of online scams and how you can avoid them this holiday season.

What Are the Dangers of Online Shopping?

In a 2015 report by CNBC, researchers found that retirees in America lose $36.5 billion annually as a result of financial abuse and fraud. Research also shows that online scammers disproportionately target senior shoppers because they tend to be more trusting, wealthier and less likely to report fraudulent transactions than younger shoppers. So, to better protect yourself —and your bank account— as you shop online, it’s important to keep a few key rules in mind.

13 Rules for Safe Online Shopping

Website URL

When you use Google search to find the perfect holiday gifts for your family and friends, it can be easy to find yourself on a website that you’ve never used before. As you’re looking through the pool of results, look for web addresses that start with HTTP or HTTPS, and make sure that you see the padlock symbol and green bar displayed in your browser bar as well.

Do You Use Wi-Fi?

If your phone, computer or tablet are connected to Wi-Fi, make sure that you’re connected to the right network. It is also a good idea to avoid purchasing products or banking on public Wi-Fi networks. If possible, always make purchases over a password protected Wi-Fi network.

Avoid Unsolicited Emails

Unknown emails can be tempting to open but should be sent to your spam folder ASAP. They can carry links or files that may hold viruses or take you to fake sites that will collect your personal information. If you don’t know the sender, always delete or send unsolicited emails to spam.

Use Mobile Banking

Most banks and credit unions offer mobile banking apps that can be set up to alert you of unusual activity on your account. Additionally, they make it super easy to check up on your accounts and recent transactions.

Log Out

It is important to remember to always log out after completing an online transaction, instead of simply closing out your browser window.

Invest in Security Software

Using some form of security software on your PC or tablet is a must. They make it easy to filter browsing, as well as block certain websites and activities.

Beware of Fraud

While it’s important to set-up your computer and email to filter out fraudulent websites, you also need to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. Additionally, you should always report any suspicious activity to your bank and the proper authorities.

Social Media Use

Social networks are some of the most frequented websites each day and because of this, they’ve become increasingly used by fraudsters. Users should watch out for common scams like fake friend requests, website links and links to videos as well.

Do You Know Your Consumer Rights?

Before you conduct business with anyone online, it’s important to brush up on your rights as a consumer. Luckily, USA.gov has lots of information on the subject that will help to make you feel more confident as you shop online this holiday season.

Buying Tickets

Purchasing fake tickets online is an easy way to put a damper on what would have otherwise been a special evening. If you can’t buy tickets through the venue of your choice, make sure you are only using reputable ticket hosting websites and not trusting transaction via Craigslist or other online marketplaces.

Use Strong Passwords

A strong and unique password should be used on every website that requires one. Using the same password across multiple platforms is very dangerous and could make it much easier for hackers to access your information.

Secure Payment Methods

Use secure payment methods like PayPal when you shop online. Additionally, it’s a good idea to register your credit cards with Verified by Visa, American Express SafeKey or Mastercard Secure.

Enjoy a Safe and Successful Holiday Shopping Season

At The Philadelphia Protestant Home, we want to ensure that our residents can feel safe and confident when shopping online. Want more information about life here at our continuing care retirement community? Contact our friendly team today!