Ask the Money Lady,

I’m in my 70s, and I would not call myself technically savvy in any way. I know, I know… I have to “get with the times,” but it’s not easy. My bank is telling me that I need to get into online banking, but I’ve heard so much about online cyber crimes and it doesn’t seem safe! Do you think I’m being too cautious?  Let me know!


Dear James,

Now more than any other time in history more and more people are banking, shopping, and communicating on-line from everywhere.  So how do we ensure that our privacy is maintained.  In an increasingly digital age, how can you secure your investments, your banking, even your own identity?  Many retires still go into their bank branches for this very reason, but are now being directed to use the bank machines.  Customers are discouraged from using the teller services unless they have a specific request.  Gone are the days of having easy conversations with your bankers.  Now it is a “masked” world, forcing our seniors to “do it for themselves – all on-line.”

You are not alone James, for many seniors, this is a real concern.  Cybercrime today is up over 800% when compared to pre-COVID stats.  So how can you protect yourself?  Let’s take a look at some of the things you can watch out for.

  1. It is a good idea to deal with the big players in banking, shopping, business and investing. This often ensures your safest route when doing anything online.  The Canadian Banks and Insurance Companies have all stepped up their digital presence and now have integrated cyber task forces and strengthened security capabilities to protect themselves and their customer’s data.  Keep your operating systems up to date and always use a security software product that includes firewalls, antivirus, antispam and antispyware.
  2. Protect your information and your identity. Unless necessary, do not give out your social insurance number (SIN), personal identification numbers (PINs), credit card numbers or health card number.
  3. Use a different password or PIN for different accounts and change them frequently. I know this is hard to keep track of and most people use the same password for everything – but please do not.  Try not to use birthdays, anniversary dates, seasons, calendar dates or even common phrases you use.
  4. Don’t share your passwords with anyone and if you do have them all written down, do not have this list in your wallet. Why not keep it in a place only you know about.  Examples are: taped to the bottom of your bathroom weigh scale, a cookie jar, under an ornament or taped to the back of your dryer.  Be creative – just don’t forget where you put the list.
  5. Avoid using public computers (in libraries and internet cafes). It is also a good habit to delete your “cookies” periodically on your computer and always make sure your wireless connections at home are encrypted and password protected.
  6. If you still write cheques: write your cheques with an ink that cannot be erased and never leave a payee space blank on the cheque or make it payable to “cash.” Shred any cheques that you make a mistake on and don’t use.

Basically, I want you to become more educated about the new digital marketplace and if necessary, get a lesson from one of your grandchildren.  Become familiar with online banking, buying, and investing, so that you can monitor your bank accounts and transactions online.  You never know, you might find this fun.  It is always difficult when learning something new, but this is important.  Do not leave yourself unprotected or vulnerable just because you are “digitally challenged.”  You can do this.  Take your time – you’ll get it.

Good Luck and Best Wishes,
Money Lady

Written by Christine Ibbotson, Author of “How to Retire Debt Free and Wealthy”  Follow on Facebook & Instagram

Written by Christine Ibbotson, Author of “How to Retire Debt Free and Wealthy”  Follow on Facebook & Instagram

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