Survey: More than 60 percent of seniors are target of online scams

A person types on a keyboard. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

More than 60 percent of American seniors have been the target or victim of an online scam, according to a survey by Home Instead, Inc.

"Cybersecurity is about risk reduction. It's difficult to achieve perfect security. But you can help older adults work to make themselves a more difficult target," Michael Kaiser said in a release.

According to the survey, 38 percent reported that someone tried to scam them online and 28 percent of seniors said they had mistakenly downloaded a computer virus.

The National Cyber Security Alliance, Stop Think and Connect and the Home Instead Senior Care network recommend the following tips:

1. Create passwords and make them strong. Lock all internet-enabled devices, including computers, tablets and smartphones, with secure passwords - at least 12 characters long and a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
2. Secure access to accounts, with two-step verification. Many online services, including apps and websites, offer free options to help protect personal information.
3. Think before you act. Emails or messages that create a sense of urgency - like a problem with a bank account or taxes - are likely a scam. Reach out to companies by phone to determine if emails are legitimate.
4. When in doubt, throw it out. If an email looks unusual, delete it. Clicking on links in email is often how scammers access personal information. Turn on spam filters to filter suspicious messages.
5. Share with care. Be aware of what you share publicly on social media and adjust privacy settings to limit who can see your information.

6. Use security software, including updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
7. Adjust browser safety settings for optimum security.
8. Use your computer's default firewall security protection on your computer.
9. Log out. Log out of apps and websites when you're finished using them. Leaving them open on your computer or smartphone could make you vulnerable to security and privacy risks.
10. Consider support. Seniors who live alone or spend a lot of time by themselves may want to consider a trusted source, such as adult family members, computer.

You can test your cyber-security skills through Protest Seniors Online.

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