Stay safe while you stay connected

It’s never been more important to stay socially connected with friends and loved ones, and technology makes that easier than ever with apps, email, phone calls, social media, texts and even video visits. We can even now take care of daily business, such as banking and shopping, from the comfort and convenience of home, too. What a time-saver!

Before you connect with your fingertips, arm yourself with tools to protect yourself online. Not everything you read on the internet is true, and sadly, not everyone who contacts you has your best interests at heart. Be alert and keep yourself safe as you benefit from the advantages of life online.

Watch out for common frauds and scams

We wish everyone was honest, but the reality is you must protect yourself from frauds and scams – especially when you are online. Follow these tips to stay safe while you stay connected:

  1. The IRS, Social Security or Medicare will never call or show up at your door asking for personal information or payment, or threaten to arrest you.
  2. If you have to pay a fee to collect your prize, you didn’t win.
  3. When someone calls or emails to say that you have a computer virus, they are not trying to “fix a problem.”
  4. An online romance asking for money is definitely not Mr. or Mrs. Right.
  5. Scam emails (phishing) may look like they were sent by friends, loved ones or reputable companies. Think twice before clicking links, and never give passwords or personal information unless you initiated the transaction.
  6. “Guaranteed income! Higher returns!” Be careful! Ask friends and family to recommend trusted financial advisors.

6 ways to outsmart those scam artists

  • Review bank and credit card statements every month.
  • Check your credit report. Request one free copy a year from
  • Shred papers containing personal information.
  • Seek advice from loved ones or trusted professionals before making financial decisions.
  • Stay informed about scams and frauds targeting older adults.
  • Report suspected fraud to law enforcement right away.

Sources: FBI, National Council on Aging, AARP

Choose passwords that are as unique as you are

Don’t make it as easy as 1-2-3. Choosing a strong password can be challenging. Remembering passwords can be even harder. Follow these tips on how to choose a strong password (hint: your initials and birthdate, your pet’s name or password123 are probably not the safest choices!):

  • Combine 8-12 letters (upper and lowercase), numbers and characters.
  • Change your password often.
  • Store passwords in a safe place. Consider using a password manager application.
  • Do not put your password or personal identification number (PIN) on your phone case, laptop cover or on your debit card! It might be handy for you if you have trouble remembering, but it gives would-be thieves access to your accounts, too.

“Treat your password like your toothbrush. Don’t let anybody else use it, and get a new one every six months.”
— Clifford Stoll – American astronomer, author and teacher

Stay safe, stay connected on the digital highway

Scammers create a sense of urgency, so resist pressure to act quickly. Take a moment to think clearly, and call the police if you feel that you or a loved one are in danger.

  • Limit what you post online with privacy settings. Scammers can use personal information from social media to better understand and target you.
  • Be careful of pop-up windows on your computer, tablet or cell phone. Shut down your device and disconnect from the internet if a pop-up message locks your screen.
  • If you suspect you are the victim of fraud, immediately contact your financial institution to protect your accounts. Consider freezing your credit so no one can use your name or Social Security number to open a new account.
  • Never click on an email or text attachment from someone you do not know.

Sources: FBI, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission