By Roberta L. Nestor
We count on our Mom’s for so many things in life. Think of all the sacrifices, time and love she has given over the years. Moms truly are amazing people. One of the greatest gifts a Mom gives is her advice. Whether about etiquette, relationships, school, work or planning your wedding – all Moms love to give their children and families advice. Moms are also very impressive as they have adapted so well to surfing the web, downloading apps on their phones, paying their bills on-line, posting and sharing photos on Facebook and have even mastered on-line shopping. But…are they doing it safely?
Moms know a lot and have probably already dealt with the more common ways to protect themselves from identity theft and cybercrime. Things like:
- Freezing all credit reports – prevents the fraudster from opening an account in your name;
- COVID Scams – not answering unsolicited calls and blocking their number;
- Not opening pop-ups on the computer – not even the little x in the top box;
- Not using the same password for every website – most important;
For those Moms who have embraced social media, chances are that most of their screen time is spent on a tablet or laptop – communicating with friends and social media and, of course, their cell phones. With their world expanding, many of their children may want to impart some wisdom they have learned from growing up in a technologic world.
- Don’t take the bait! Recognize that links in emails or text messages may be malicious. If you hoover your mouse or finger over the link and it looks like gibberish (or not what the link says it is) then don’t click. Double check who the sender is. It may say “Cindy Smith,” but if you hover over her name, the email address says email@example.com – it is probably not Cindy;
- Keep your software up to date – not only to allow programs to run faster; but also, to update security and privacy protections;
- Don’t fall prey to phone call scams. The electric company will not call you and threaten to cut off your service. The IRS does not make outbound calls and only communicates directly by mail. If you get an unusual call from a company you do business with, hang up! Call that company directly, chances are they did not initiate a call to you.;
- Set-up alerts from your bank. Online shopping often leaves your credit card information on those websites from grocery stores to other retail stores. Consider getting text message alerts from your bank. Each time you use your debit card or credit card, you will get a text message;
- Stranger danger also applies to Wi-Fi. Use a password-protected Wi-Fi like your home. This may not always be the case, but by clicking the “I consent to…” in exchange for free Wi-Fi, you may have given up your privacy.
Social media is a fraudster’s best friend. While children have grown up with this for years, their parents haven’t had this advantage. As great as it is to be able to see photos of your grandkids across the country and see what old high school friends are up to (or how much hair they have left), be choosey with what you share. Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.
Beware of posting photos: The picture you post of your child or grandchild, who’s celebrating his fifth birthday; your pet that passed away; your alma mater high’s school recent football championship or reminiscing about where you got married how many years ago — those are all usual security questions to access your accounts or sometimes, they are your passwords.
The many Facebook surveys and quizzes to find out what “Golden Girl You are” can be fun and dangerous. It may sound harmless to pick your favorite color, where you went to college, what’s your best friend’s name, and your birthdate, but again, that information helps cybercriminals build a robust impersonation of you.
Take some time with Mom’s phone or tablet this Mother’s Day to help her stay safe and avoid identity and cyber theft. Teach her about location settings, privacy settings, apps where she might have consented to make her information accessible and make sure all her social media privacy settings are maximized. It is a great gift.
Roberta L. Nestor is a financial advisor practicing at 759 Boston Post Road in Milford, CT offering retirement, long term care, investment, and tax planning services. She offers securities and advisory services as a Registered Representative and Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network – a member FINRA/SIPC and a Registered Investment Adviser. Fixed insurance products offered through Nestor Financial Network are separate and unrelated to Commonwealth. Commonwealth Financial Network or Nestor Financial Network does not provide legal or tax advice. You should consult a legal or tax professional regarding your individual situation. Roberta can be reached at Nestor Financial Network, 203-876-8066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.