internet basics for seniors – Part two
By Taylor Gadsden as seen in allconnect.com
Helpful tools for internet education
If you’re feeling like the last person to learn about the internet, you’re actually one of many older adults looking to become better acquainted with this technology. Many assisted living communities and senior-focused organizations provide classes and guided learning that can help you learn with a group of your peers. Look out for these senior resources online or in your area.
- AARP – This learning portal covers all things for life over 50, including computer tips.
- Eldy – Download this free software that will instantly make any computer more simple and easy to use for beginners.
- GCFLearnFree.org – This website has an entire Internet Skills section, covering different browsers, online safety, social media, email and Google.
- SeniorNet – Locate a SeniorNet learning center near you to learn more about computers and receive guided in-person tutorials. SeniorNet is based in Fort Myers, FL, and serves adults over 55 across the U.S.
- Skillful Senior – This website is full of basic tutorials that will teach you everything from the proper computer posture to key positions on your keyboard.
- TechBoomers – Browse more than 100 free courses to learn everything from data privacy to social media, and how to use popular websites and apps like Airbnb, Netflix and Skype.
- The Senior’s Guide to Computers – Computer-focused education with “simplified terms, examples, pictures and videos actually described in easy-to-understand English.”
- Webwise – Visit this online guide to brush up on your computer knowledge and view interactive tutorials.
Check with non-profit organizations in your community to see if they provide senior internet education or a place where you can practice using the internet around someone that can answer questions as you go, such as your local library.
Also, check with internet service providers in your area to see whether you are eligible for discounted internet service. Many popular providers like AT&T, Cox and Xfinity offer basic internet service to seniors for only a fraction of the cost of regular service.
Internet scams to look out for
Health Insurance Scams
Scam artists have found ways to use the internet to their advantage with Medicare and other health insurance fraud.
Medicare fraud is when someone steals your Medicare plan number and uses your coverage for their own healthcare needs. To spot these, inspect your monthly statements and cross-reference them to your own records of medical appointments, charges and purchases. You can log in at MyMedicare.gov at any time. Remember to protect your Medicare information like you would your social security number or any other confidential info. If you see a surprising charge, contact the provider first to find out what it was for. You might have had an appointment you forgot about. If you think it’s Medicare fraud, report it by calling the following phone numbers:
- 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
- TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048
- Medicare Advantage Plan holders can call the Medicare Drug Integrity Contractor (MEDIC) at 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379)
Other fraudsters sell fake or unnecessary health insurance to seniors. Some providers will even add fake charges to plan holders’ accounts, including billing for services never rendered, upcoding to a higher-priced treatment than what you actually got, misclassifying typically covered services to categories that are not covered and unbundling services into separate line items to increase the final cost. That’s why it’s important to always purchase health insurance coverage directly through the official government marketplace.
Pro tip: Be on high alert during Open Enrollment, which is typically November and December.
Counterfeit Health and Beauty Products
Also of importance to your health and wallet, you need to watch out for online health and beauty scams, particularly when it comes to prescription drugs and products with anti-aging claims.
There are lots of legitimate and counterfeit medicines available for sale online. Even medicine that looks real can be fake. So how do you know if you’re buying the real thing or not? The FDA has its BeSafeRx website, complete with a state-by-state database of trustworthy online pharmacies.
But you can also run through this checklist, courtesy of information from the FDA:
- Do they allow you to purchase without a prescription from your doctor?
- Are the prices extremely low?
- Have they contacted you via email about any promotional offers or affordable meds?
- Are they outside of the U.S.?
- Are they unlicensed in the U.S.?
If you answer yes to any of those questions, proceed cautiously — or not at all. You can take the medicine to your pharmacist and ask them to verify its legitimacy. You’ll also want to cancel any credit cards you shared with the online pharmacy, and notify your financial institutions to freeze or watch your accounts.
There are also many fraudulent wellness and beauty products with anti-aging or other health claims that almost seem too good to be true. Typically, they are. You’ll see this commonly with cosmetics, supplements, botox or HGH (human growth hormone) products.
How to spot a fake? The FBI says “secret formula” and “breakthrough” are two key phrases to watch out for, as well as products that have no side effects. Celebrity endorsements and real customer testimonials don’t add to a product’s legitimacy. Instead, do your own independent research on Google—try searching the company or product name along with the word “scam” to uncover any potential risks.
If you have found a scam, report it by emailing email@example.com.
Phishing emails are fake messages that fraudsters send to try to get victims’ personal information, including name, credit card number, bank account information, social security number, passwords and more. The emails themselves will either request the information directly or, more commonly, include a fake link or attachment that gives them access to your information.
To spot a phishing email, look for a message from a sender you don’t recognize or has a weird or suspicious email address, as well as emails that omit your first name or have several recipients you don’t know. Some phishing emails have tricky “names” like “Customer Support” that make you think it’s legitimate. Always investigate further if you receive an email you didn’t expect.
Phishing emails are also known for poor spelling and grammar, lots of links with crazy URLs and unnecessary images or attachments.
If you receive a phishing email, report it as spam to your email service provider and add them to your blocked sender list.
Forward any suspected phishing emails to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tech Support Scam
A tech support scam is when a fraudster impersonates a support specialist from a company and contacts people to get access to their computers or devices. You might see a pop-up window on your screen with a message and phone number to call or receive a call from someone who says there’s an issue with your machine. Regardless, the person on the other end of the line will typically say they need to remotely access it to investigate the problem further.
When they’re successful, they might gain access to your machine and all the information associated with it. Others will say that in order to fix the problem they’ve found, you’ll need to pay a fee. They’ll take your credit card information and run with it.
If you see a pop-up on your computer with a similar message, don’t click on any of the links or dial the provided phone number. If you receive a call, hang up and block the number.
Online lottery scams typically involve some sort of notification that you’ve won a lottery, along with directions for how to claim your prize. People who receive these messages may not have even played any lottery in the first place. Similar to the tech support scam pop-ups, lottery scams may pop up on a random website that you’re browsing. You might also receive email messages about your winnings.
While free money sounds great, this type of lottery is a fast track to lose money. It’s fake, and there is no pot of money to collect.
Never give your credit card or bank account information to someone who claims you’ve won a lottery. If you do receive a physical check, make sure it clears before you spend that cash.
If you think you’ve found or have been a victim of any of the scams above, file as many reports as possible using the links above and these resources:
- FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- Your state’s Consumer Protection Office
- econsumer.gov (for international scams)
Learning tips for internet beginners
- Jot down a few of the terms above each week and read through them in your spare time. Writing down the meanings by hand can help you remember the words and quicken your internet education.
- Find ways to relate complicated technical concepts with concepts that you already understand. For example, in the “internet,” “website” and “webpage” definitions, it helps to think of the internet as a massive library, a website as one of the books in the library and a webpage as a page in that book.
- Make sure to actively use your internet-connected devices to practice what you’ve learned. Repetition will help you become acquainted with terms, technical commands and general use more quickly.
- Ask a friend or family member for help. A younger member of your family is more likely to be familiar with the words and practices you’re learning and will go at a pace that’s right for you.
Frequently asked questions about internet basics
Where Can I Get Internet?
You can set up an internet connection in your home by contacting an internet service provider in your area. These providers offer internet service to businesses and households all over the country for a monthly fee and usually offer professional installation. Some providers offer discounts for seniors or veterans. Looking for internet service providers in your area? Call now to speak with an Allconnect® expert and shop internet deals today.
Call now: (888) 498-0529
Can I Buy Internet, TV and Home Phone from the Same Place?
Yes, most internet service providers offer two or more home services that you can bundle to simplify your monthly bill. Some providers, like AT&T, Spectrum and Xfinity, reward customers for purchasing more than one service by offering discounted pricing, free equipment or installation and more. Call now to learn more about providers and bundle deals near you.
Which Web Browser and Search Engine is Best?
There isn’t one browser or search engine that is universally considered to be “the best,” but some are more popular than others. Google is currently the most popular search engine in the world, with hundreds of millions of search queries each day. The best browser for you depends on the type of sites you like to visit as well as the features and look you prefer. Google Chrome is currently leading the industry with more than 60% of the browser market share worldwide and is well-known for its simple design, speed and advanced security features.
How Do I know If I Have a Virus?
Indicators of a computer virus include: pop up ads, mysterious messages or emails being sent from your social or email accounts, computer access lockouts, devices freezing and slow performance. Learn how you can protect your computer from viruses and more internet safety tips.