Summertime and online shopping can be easy and safe for everyone, especially the elderly.
As a result of the unexpected years of the pandemic, there has been a dramatic shift in consumer attitudes towards using technology to purchase products and services. There has also been a growing acceptance of technology by older consumers who have been forced to embrace an online existence as access to the outside world around them quickly closed.
Today, an aging community is increasingly familiar with technology and getting used to it.
Consumers continue to use e-commerce by spending $871.78 billion in 2021 in online transactions, up over 14% from the previous year. The pandemic has also boosted those dollars, especially among seniors who have realized the ease, convenience, and safety of shopping from home.
A significant overall market power, the “purchasing power potential” of older people has, in general, grown in the last decade. In 2018, consumers aged 50 and over spent $7.6 trillionaccounting for 56 percent of total US spending.
For seniors, a significant transition from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to online retail continues. The over 65 community has jumped into the game and today they have an ever-increasing influence in online trading.
In 2020, many of those 65+ are on average $187 in online stores per month. It is also clear that the habit of shopping online, which was born during COVID-19, will not disappear in the near or distant future.
Unfortunately, along with the rise in online spending, scammers have come up with new tactics to extort significant amounts of money from unsuspecting online users. All consumers should have the proper tools in order to feel confident while participating in online trading.
In particular, older people will benefit from having clear information on how to shop safely online.
Solutions for seniors to participate in e-commerce with safety tips and additional resources
Seven tips for safe online shopping:
1) Always use a reliable online store for your purchases and beware of fake online stores that are often posted on social networks and can offer tempting prices.
Beware of fake online stores and check any unfamiliar stores with Best Business Bureau. Consider trusted online stores like Amazon that offer Warranty from A to Z for items purchased from their site that can help resolve issues with third party vendors.
2) It is best to use a credit card for your purchases.
If you are purchasing an item with a credit card, you can always dispute that payment. Federal law limits liability to $50 for unauthorized charges on your account, and if you report it to your credit card company as soon as you find it, they will often remove it entirely.
3) Make sure you are on a secure site when entering financial information during purchase transactions.
Always make sure you are on a secure site before entering financial or other sensitive information. Look for the “http” address bar to go to “https” when asked to enter financial information such as a credit card number. This means that it will be transmitted safely.
4) Protect your privacy and security.
Engage Confidentiality settings, cookie choices and clear your history regularly to avoid unwanted marketing from companies.
5) Beware of online ‘phishing’ targeting older people.
Fraudsters use email or text messages that look like they’re from a company you know or trust, such as your bank, credit card company, or online retailer. Phishing emails ask for your personal information, such as your username or social security number, to verify your account, or may ask you to update your credit card payment. They then use this information to steal your personal and financial information.
To avoid phishing, carefully check the email address to make sure it belongs to the company (the email address is often incorrect or differs by one or two letters). Some companies have implemented email verification technology to make it easier to identify legitimate emails. For example, if customers see the “Smile” logo next to emails originating from @amazon.com, this would indicate that the email came from Amazon and not a scammer.
Click here to see if your email provider supports this technology. A dose of healthy skepticism is appropriate if you receive any unsolicited emails asking you to provide your personal and/or financial information.
6) Remember this saying: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Be wary of unsolicited emails and special offers that ask you to “click here”. They may lead you to illegal sellers or scammers.
7) Report any scam or scam you encounter online.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Report a scam, scam or issue with company:
For more information about online shopping safety, visit the following helpful websites:
Debra Berlin is Executive Director of Connect Seniors Online (GOAL) and President of Consumer Policy Solutions. She has represented the AARP on telecommunications and digital TV transition, and has worked closely with national aging organizations on a range of Internet-related issues, including online security and privacy issues. She is Vice Chair of the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee, serves on the board of the National Consumer League, and is a Board Member and Senior Fellow at the Future of Privacy Forum. This part is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
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