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Internet Safety for Baby Boomers

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This post is a public service announcement aimed at retiring baby boomers. Has your 401(k) taken a huge hit and you’re looking for ways to supplement your retirement income? Do you know just enough about the Internet to use the googler and forward e-mails to your family? Then we’re talking to you. Please read this post carefully before you go searching for ways to make money online.

How to Avoid Being Scammed

The Internet is the wild, wild west, only bigger. And without the ponies. It is unregulated and chaotic and full of snake oil salesmen who want to take your money. And they’re going to specifically target you as a retiree because they think you are naive about the online world.

You can avoid 99.9% of online scams by following two simple rules.

Rule #1: Never Pay For a Job

Never, ever. If you click on a link or an ad that promises to tell you about a high-paying job, and then you read the materials and they want you to pay for “a kit,” or “training,” or “the members area,” it is not a job. You are being mislead. This rule is infallible.

There are legitimate business and training opportunities online that are worth paying for. But they don’t pretend to be jobs.

Rule #2: If You Wouldn’t Do It in Real Life, Don’t Do It Online

What if a total stranger knocked on your door one day and introduced herself as Miss Angela Kennedy, from Senegal, Africa (or some other country). What if that person then proceeded to tell you her life story and about her rich father who left her millions of dollars in a Swiss bank account. And then she tells you that she needs $1,000 to get the money out, and if you’ll giver her the $1,000, she’ll give you half of the money.

You’d slam the door, right? And yet, every day, people fall for this lie and others like it because the lie takes place online, through e-mail. By some estimates, westerners lose $100,000 every day to online scams like this.

Here is another common scenario. What if a salesman showed up at your door hopping around, excited, shouting that you can live the life of your dreams! You can make hundreds of dollars a day with 15 minutes of easy work! You can have fancy cars and big houses! Say he pulled out big glossy photos of the cars and houses and held them up for you.

You’d slam the door because you would know he’s trying to push your emotional buttons to sell you something. The same is true online. Don’t click on unsolicited email messages promising big money. Doing so is the equivalent of inviting that obnoxious salesman into your living room.

Retirees Can Supplement Their Income Online

There are legitimate businesses and good opportunities to be found. Many people make a lot of money using the Internet, and so can baby boomers. But none of them are fast and miraculous, and you probably have a lot to learn. Make these two rules your guide and you’ll be safe.

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