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Helping Your Senior Parents Stay Safe Online

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With more people using the Internet for things such as online purchases, banking, communication, education, dating and networking, fraud and scams have become a serious problem. Seniors, who are now getting connected, are especially vulnerable and need to be wary of the dangers involved. Use of the Internet has made it much easier for the elderly to shop, fill prescriptions, and communicate without needing to venture outdoors.

Every day we hear about seniors who have fallen victim to identity theft, credit card fraud, lottery swindlers, and tax traps. Physical and mental frailty can make people become dependent on others and more likely to fall victim to these scams. Additionally, seniors tend to be much more trusting and can't always tell they are being swindled. This makes them an easy target to would-be thieves.

Scams have become very sophisticated and it is increasingly common for seniors to rely on their children, grandchildren or family members to help determine which are legitimate. It is extremely important to teach our elderly parents how to protect their identity, account information, passwords, personal information, and social security numbers. Educate them on what spam is and the importance of using common sense while online. Learning to recognize scams and other potential crimes is essential.

If you are planning to help a parent or senior get established on a computer, it is a good idea to find out what their goal is. Do they want to send emails? Make online purchases? Write letters? Pay bills? Help get their computer set up to do only the tasks they intend to use it for and eliminate all of the other unnecessary options. Ensuring your elderly parent's computer is protected with a good firewall is also critical.

Using a computer can help seniors stay busy and mentally sharp. Encourage your elderly parents or grandparents to utilize the Internet but make them leery of suspicious offers and situations that are too good to be true. Check often on what they are using the computer for and who they have made recent contact with. Most importantly, make yourself available should they need help or have questions.

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