October Is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

 In Business Planning, Digital Assets

Today’s increasingly high-tech and connected world is increasingly leading to the potential for cyber security concerns, especially among senior citizens. Rochester Elder Law Attorney Miles Zatkowsky understands many senior citizens find themselves vulnerable to identity theft, computer viruses and other forms of cybercrimes.

Tech-savvy individuals – and this could be individuals of any age – understand the need to protect themselves online.

October Is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Here are five ways to protect yourself from cybercrimes and protect your aging loved ones from being a victim of identity theft or other online crime.

  1. Be savvy about which sites you allow access to your personal information. Don’t store passwords, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or other personal financial information on online shopping or banking sites. When you’re prompted to “save this information for future use” click “no.” It may take a few more moments to re-enter information, but you will be safer if you’re not storing information online.
  2. Use secure passwords for every site you log into. Use different passwords for every site. If a hacker manages to get into one of your accounts and if you use the same password for every account, your online identity is compromised across the board. When setting passwords use a string of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Some individuals are fond of using a phrase they make more secure by using the combination of numbers, letters and special characters. For example: the phrase, “I like pizza” could be changed to: !L1k3piZz@. Write your passwords down so you will have them when you need them. Note: don’t leave your written passwords taped to the computer!
  3. The IRS and your bank will NEVER email you to tell you your account has been hacked and give you a link to click through. If you get an email from your bank that asks you to click a link and then verify your identity – this is a phishing scam. Call your bank or go to the bank’s site (on your own, not through a link in an email) and log in to see if your account is secure. Don’t open emails from people you don’t know and don’t click links inside of emails.
  4. Keep your computer virus software up to date. Doing this will help provide a layer of protection against computer viruses.
  5. Be cautious about whom you befriend on social media. There are many scams targeting young and old alike where strangers send “friend” requests then proceed to hack your accounts. If you don’t know someone who is sending you a request, then don’t accept. Conversely if you want to connect with someone you don’t know, add a note to let that person know how you know them and why you want to connect.

Computers and technology are an ideal way for families to stay connected across the miles, but make certain your aging loved ones are using computers and technology wisely.

When talking with an Elder Law Attorney discuss your online life – including bank accounts, utilities and other online bill pay accounts you may have – and make provisions for that information to be turned over to the executor or trustee of your estate when you pass. If you pass away and fail to leave adequate information, your executor may not be able to access your financial information, leaving assets uncollected for your heirs.

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