• Liz Miller

7 Tips for Staying Safe Online

Updated: May 19

Now more than ever it has become essential to be safe online. Since more and more people are connected cybercrime is becoming a real issue. Many people have been caught in scams, identity theft, or had passwords and sensitive information leaked. This isn’t just a problem for the individual but even for large companies. Thus as individual users, it is important we take the steps necessary to protect ourselves, our information, and our access. GetSetup has some tips to help the average user navigate the internet with more safety.

1. Whenever you navigate to a website that might collect information from you, look at the left corner of the address bar. If there is a locked padlock there, the site is verified as a safe site with encrypted data transmission. Try not to enter sites that do not offer this minimum (padlock encrypted data transmission) protection to their users.

2. If you have to type in your full name and address, make sure the site actually requires it. Required data should be signified by an asterisk (*) or some other visual sign. If the site does not require your full data — do not enter it. Instead, consider putting in just a first name or a nickname.

3. Read privacy policies. It can be time-consuming, but some sites share or sell your information and you may not want that. Be sure that you are aware of what a site is doing with your information.

4. When you create a password, it’s safer to think of a phrase or sentence and use the first letter of each word to make the password. Or even better, use some symbols to replace letters. For example, @=a, !=L, 8=s, etc. Be sure to include numbers and symbols in every password.

5. Try to always make up nonsense answers to the recovery questions. For example, if a site asks for your mother’s maiden name, make up a long, nonsense name like yxikemsuijkk. It will be harder to remember, but this way you are not giving out information that could be compiled to compromise your identity. Identity thieves do not ask for your complete information in one sitting. They will compile your full name, address, phone number, and other personal information one piece at a time often from a number of different sites. You can reuse these nonsense answers if you wish since they have no relevance to your identity. If you write them down, keep them in a safe place and not in your purse or wallet.

6. Try not to reuse passwords. Many people panic at the thought of having to remember hundreds of passwords for different sites. If you need help with that, use a password generator and a separate storage program for your passwords. iPhones have this type of software automatically, and you can add it to Android. Google Chrome, even, has a password manager included. If you prefer to use an outside password manager site, two great examples are LastPass or 1Password, which help you to manage and remember your passwords.

7. When you need to pay for something online consider using a prepaid debit card. You can buy one at Walmart, gas stations, or online. These cards are not connected to your bank account. Once you have the prepaid debit card, research the purchase you wish to make and note the amount you will pay. Move the correct amount from your bank to the debit card and make the purchase. Doing this keeps all your banking information private and only exposes the prepaid card number. This adds a step to the purchase, but can save you hours of stress trying to recover from identity theft.

Also, even if a thief gets that card number, they can only get the amount of money you put on the card. Your accounts are safe. Three examples of prepaid cards:

  1. Bluebird by American Express

  2. Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa Card

  3. Akimbo

There are many, many options available, these are just a few examples. Many banks also offer prepaid debit cards but may charge monthly fees.

Keep these tips in mind as you navigate the internet safely and remember if you need help setting up an online prepaid credit card or learning to make safe purchases online, GetSetup offers one-on-one live remote training to ensure that seniors (50+) can confidently and safely surf the web with tips and training from their peers.