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United Hebrew seniors learn cyber safety from Ridgewood Savings Bank and Iona University students

How to Help Protect Seniors from Cyber Scams

Spurred by the pandemic, the rate of new technology adoption and online shopping among older consumers continues to grow, which leaves many at risk for online scams, fake shopping sites, and other fraudulent activity.

So, what are some pitfalls and how can you help your aging parents avoid them?

“One simple way is to look for the “s” in the e-commerce site’s URL,” said Gavin Matranga, Assistant Vice President & Security Director at Ridgewood Savings Bank. “View the address bar at the top of your screen. If it starts with “https”, as opposed to “http”, you’ll know that any transaction you make on the site will be encrypted by a secure certificate known as an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). This encryption of the transmitted data helps prevent hackers from spying on your private information, like credit card details.”

Matranga recently offered residents of United Hebrew’s Willow Towers Assisted Living facility a number of practical tips as part of a special event, “Senior Santas go Back to School for Cyber Monday Shopping Safety.”

The goal of the event was to empower seniors by giving them the knowledge and resources they need to avoid bad online neighborhoods and enjoy their holiday shopping experience, according to Deborah King, Activities Director at Willow Towers.

“This is just one example of how we work with partners to help keep our residents up-to-date,” says King. “It’s also a great opportunity to socialize and stay connected with our surrounding community.”

Student volunteers from Iona University stepped in after the learning session to help residents put their safe shopping practices to use in purchasing gifts for family and friends.

Additional tips from Matranga:

  • Stick with retailers you know and trust and avoid shady third-party seller websites from ads.
  • Go directly to retailer websites rather than clicking on offers in ads or emails, and avoid offers in text message links.
  • Make sure your laptop or PC is updated with the latest browser. Check if Chrome, Firefox or Edge is the latest version. In addition, check if the system has the latest antivirus/malware software and definitions.

For more tips, see this flyer from the NYS Division of Consumer Protection.