Ten years ago, we had it all figured out. You reviewed the bank statement every month and shredded old personal documents. The home safe kept the most important or irreplaceable items. You had a system. Your parents' information was secure and their assets' were sound.
Then the internet came along and ruined our arrangement. Sure, we got Amazon.com, Pinterest, Facebook and SeniorHomes.com in the deal. But we also got spam, spoofing, phishing and pharming.
In the digital age, you need a new set of guidelines, tips and techniques to ensure your safety. This post discusses practical methods to keep assets and personal information safe in an era when our private lives have often become very public.
Reset PasswordsRemember the warnings never to write your four-digit PIN on the back of your bank card? In the internet age, passwords are the Achilles heel. Too many people rely on poor passwords to protect their information. Hackers use sophisticated programs to unlock and steal your personal data. Improving your loved one's password security is the first line of defense in digital and financial safety. Make it hard for the hackers and keep your information safe.
- Work with your aging parent to change passwords at least every six months.
- Longer phrases that are particular or special to your loved one are both easier to remember and harder to crack.
- Avoid simple and common passwords like "Password1" or "abcdef".
Watch Your BillsHelp your loved one track his or her finances. Remind her to keep records of credit card charges and bank transactions. Never rely on banks to notify you of bizarre credit card charges.
- Encourage your aging loved ones to check their bank statements regularly to make sure they recognize the transactions. If anything unexpected shows up, have them contact their bank to investigate.
Team UpWhen did you last discuss data security with your family? Make the next time tonight. Digital safety is a family issue in the internet age. If you put forward a united front and share best practices with each other, you are ahead of the game.
- Talk about family online security on the regular. Share advice and tips among all members of the family. Make it a regular discussion.
- Ask a younger family member or a friend to try and circumvent your security protocols. If they can get in to your account, so can a bad guy. Patch up any vulnerabilities you find.
- Review the latest scams targeting seniors. Make sure your loved one is aware of the current scams.
ConclusionDespite your best efforts, no system is perfect. But, perfection is not your goal. Your goal is to make the scammers find another target.
If you follow the tips above, you will help keep your older relative safe and in control of their information and assets in the digital era. Your mom is a queen. Keep her away from Nigerian princes online.
Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a Masters in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.