Nowadays, everyone in the family is using technology - from kids to grandparents. These convenient digital tools instantly connect everything, from friends and family to financial accounts and shopping. Unfortunately, they also open the door to fraudsters.
It’s more important than ever to educate your family members about online safety and how to avoid becoming a victim of the latest scam.
Essential Online Security Tips
Begin by reviewing your current online practices. There are simple steps you can take to safeguard your accounts and daily activities against scammers.
- Creating Passwords: When creating passwords for any online account, be sure the password is strong. Utilize a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Stay away from the obvious passwords relating to birthdays, anniversaries, pet names, or any other personal information that can be easily obtained (especially via social media).
- Using Security Software: Many fraud attempts originate behind the scenes – through viruses or malware you’re not even aware exist on your device. It’s crucial to install security software not only on your computer but all your electronic devices. Most major security providers now offer subscriptions that include everything from mobile phones to tablets.
- Visiting Websites: You always want to make sure you’re visiting secure websites – especially when entering personal or financial information. It’s easy to tell if the website you’re visiting is secure by the URL on the webpage.
If the URL begins with HTTPS://, it is a secure site. The “S” means secure. Unsecure web domains will start with HTTP://. Depending on your browser, a small lock icon may also be present by the website URL when secured.
- Checking Email: Email is one of the most common methods for fraud to take place. Never download attachments from any source you do not know or trust. The same is true for clicking links within emails. Attachments and links are the easiest way for scammers to install malicious software on your device. And never send personal or financial information through email – the credit union will never request this information from you via email.
- Text Messages: Similar to email, you never want to click on links from senders you do not know or trust. For example, a common scam includes a text from an unknown number notifying you that you’re a winner in some contest with a link provided.
Protecting Your Family
While simple changes in your web activity can help prevent costly fraud cases, it’s even more crucial to educate those targeted online the most – children and seniors.
Most kids become fluent in technology at a very early age. Unfortunately, they do not always pay close attention to what they click or agree to on websites. You must be aware of what websites they are visiting and make sure they are not sharing personal information or interacting with people they may not know.
Children should also be wary of free downloads such as ringtones, wallpapers, or games. It’s through these files that malware is often transferred to devices. Ensure security software is installed and up to date on all their devices. Depending on their age, you may want to activate parental controls that prevent downloads without permission.
While you may want to display trust in your child’s ability to navigate the online world, it is crucial to keep online safety at the forefront of your discussions.
Whether by phone, email, text, or online, seniors are unfortunately one of the most targeted groups. Scammers like to use fear with older adults, and common scams will include:
- Social Security Number Locked
- IRS Tax Payments & Penalties
- Utility Account Late Payments
- Financial Account Fraud Attempts
- Services (Netflix Account) Locked
You must educate your parents or grandparents on these types of scams. And stress the importance of never providing their personal or financial information over the phone, through email, or via text.
If they receive a call, text, or email that seems legit, they should not provide any information. Instead, instruct your parents or grandparents to call their financial institution or service provider directly and ask if the message is genuine.
We’re Here to Help!
Education is critical when it comes to online safety. It is more important than ever to have ongoing conversations with your family members and to keep them abreast of any new scams that may be circulating.
The security of your accounts remains a top priority at our credit union. For questions on keeping your accounts secure, please give us a call at 202-479-2270 or email us at email@example.com.