The Dangers of Oversharing Online

The internet – particularly social media such as Facebook – can be like a lifeline to lonely seniors. But this popular social networking service comes with pros and cons. On the one hand, social media has helped older adults stay connected with family and friends, and even find dates and mates. On the other hand, sharing a bit too much could make you vulnerable to scammers.

The majority of seniors interviewed by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, use social media. About 12 percent of those surveyed American seniors over the age of 70 have had negative social media experiences including being asked for money and having to block someone.

The potential dangers of oversharing could put you at risk. Remember that the beautiful individual you are chatting with online could just be a scammer. When you’re dealing in the online world, things may not be at all what they seem. Always be mindful about how much personal information you’re posting and who can see it.

“The more people understand who you are, the more they can put together elements of your identity such as birthdate, grandkids’ names and even a dog’s name,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. “Personal information could help someone hack into a password or correctly answer your security questions.”

Don’t let fear keep you from being engaged online. Here, from the National Cyber Security Alliance, Public Safety Canada and Home Instead Senior Care, are ways to protect yourself on social media and dating services:

  • When creating a Facebook profile, minimize the amount of detailed information you provide. Remember that specifics about hobbies, work history and finances could end up in the wrong hands. Be wary of what you make public, such as your photos and status updates. Keep in mind that your profile picture and cover photo are typically public. Personal and sensitive information should be private, including your friends’ list. You can adjust who sees what by reviewing your privacy settings.

  • It’s OK to post those great vacation photos, but it is best to wait until you’re home to do so. Geo-tagging and sharing your location on devices can let criminals know when nobody’s home. Likewise, dating apps that use geo-locating features are also popular, but they can reveal too much information such as home or workplace addresses.

  • Don’t share personal financial information with anyone including a potential online date. In fact, you should be very suspicious if someone starts quizzing you about your financial situation.

  • Be careful about the personal information you post or give out anywhere on social media. Even your birth date could be used by a thief.

  • Did you know that the information you share on one account can show up on another? For example, photos and information you post on Twitter may end up on Facebook if you tether your accounts. In addition, your friends may share a post that is then visible to other friends. Be sure to go into your privacy settings on all your accounts to ensure you are protected and understand who is seeing what information about you, and perhaps your family as well.

  • Be selective when accepting friend requests of someone who doesn’t sound familiar to you or you don’t know. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings – it’s better to be safe!

  • Be wary of quizzes, games and other apps that require you to give up personal information. Even your personal preferences such as the type of restaurant you like, in the wrong hands, could lead to risks.

If you’re in need of companionship or help in your home, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office to learn how a CAREGiver℠ could you assist you. Be sure to check out one man’s incredible story about an elaborate scam attempt. Could the same thing happen to you?

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