Digital Literacy Today: Why Tech Savvy and Tech Safety Go Hand in Hand
In the U.S., nearly half of people age 65+ have home internet connectivity, providing access to nearly limitless information, resources and communication tools. From watching movies and playing games to more pragmatic life hacks such as scheduling appointments and managing prescriptions, a smartphone or laptop can keep you connected in ways that were once impossible.
But did you know that every 39 seconds, a hacker is stealing personal information online, affecting one in three Americans every year? Whether it’s a phishing scheme or identity theft, every click you make can open the door to cyber crime. That’s why digital literacy is more important than ever before.
A huge part of technology usage involves keeping our personal information under wraps. How can you ensure the credit card information you just entered is safe? How can you tell if your passwords are compromised? What should you do if you see an “Accept” or “Agree” pop-up when you enter a new website? That’s why digital literacy also includes your knowledge of internet privacy best practices and privacy laws.
For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act, effective in 2020, represents a huge step by a U.S. state to strengthen consumer privacy. To remain compliant, companies across the country are making changes to their data collection practices to better safeguard consumer data in terms of what can be collected and shared on the internet. To learn about data protection laws in your state, check out the Definitive Guide to US State Data Breach Laws.
Are your digital safety skills up to par?
As much as legislation tries to protect consumers’ data, that doesn't mean you can stop being vigilant about your online activities. Cyber scammers and hackers are lurking in every corner of the internet, trying to steal passwords, account numbers, credit card information, Social Security numbers and more. According to the Federal Trade Commission, thousands of phishing attacks are launched every day — and too often, they’re successful.
When it comes to online privacy and safety, you can never be too cautious. Always follow these 5 common-sense best practices:
- Create strong passwords. People tend to choose easy-to-remember passwords. The problem is they’re often easy for hackers to figure out. Select unique passwords that contain at least 15 characters and mix letters, numbers and special characters. If you’re having trouble juggling too many passwords — we’ve all been there — consider using a password manager.
- Practice safe browsing. Don’t be fooled by dubious content. If it looks or sounds suspicious, resist the urge to click. For instance, if you receive a suspect email from your bank, instead of clicking on the provided link, use your browser to type in the site address you know and trust.
- Only shop on secure sites. Only supply your credit card or bank account information on sites that provide secure, encrypted connections. You can identify secure sites by looking for an address that starts with https: — the S stands for secure — rather than http:.
- Keep privacy settings turned on. Hackers can learn a lot from your browsing and social media usage. Hide your online whereabouts with the right settings in place.
- Ensure your anti-virus program is current. Internet security software can add a vital layer of protection. Make sure your operating system is regularly updated to put up the best defense possible.
Digital and financial savvy go hand in hand
With the world at your digital fingertips, you may be contemplating your next vacation or dreaming of purchasing a condo at the beach. Make sure to keep the tips above in mind as you look for financing options, like a reverse mortgage.
Exclusively for homeowners and homebuyers age 62 and older, a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) allows you to borrow against the equity in your home, giving you access to cash that you can use today, or a line of credit that will be there when you need it. An Equity Elite† reverse mortgage is another loan option, designed for homeowners and homebuyers as young as 60**, specifically for higher value homes, condominiums and those looking for lower up-front costs. Available in certain states, this loan offers many benefits, including higher loan limits and no Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) fees.
Most reverse mortgage sites offer digital calculators to estimate the amount of funds that could be available to you. Reverse Mortgage Funding protects your privacy by hosting their digital calculators on a secure site. If you still don’t feel comfortable sharing your personal information online, consider calling and speaking to a loan specialist at 888-277-1567. We’ll set up a convenient in-person appointment with an experienced loan specialist from your area who will walk you through the process.
This content is sponsored by RMF, one of the nation’s leading reverse mortgage lenders. We are dedicated to helping older Americans retire more freely, in the comfort of their own homes. As a result of our commitment to providing an extraordinary and positive customer experience, we have earned a 98% customer satisfaction rating; a 5-star / Excellent score on Trustpilot; 4.8 out of 5 stars on LendingTree; and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Call 888-277-1567 to speak with a licensed reverse mortgage specialist to learn about our retirement financing products and solutions.
SEE WHAT FUNDS YOU MAY HAVE AVAILABLE
If you have equity in your home and believe you meet the eligibility requirements, a reverse mortgage may be the option that could help you retire smart.
†Equity Elite Reverse Mortgage (“Equity Elite”) is Reverse Mortgage Funding LLC’s proprietary loan program, and it is not affiliated with the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loan program, which is insured by FHA. Equity Elite is available to qualified borrowers who also may be eligible for HUD, FHA’s HECM program or are seeking loan proceeds that are higher than HUD, FHA’s HECM program limit. Equity Elite currently is available only for eligible properties in select states. Please contact your loan originator to see if it is currently available in your state.
Upon a maturity event, any non-borrowing individuals with an ownership interest in the property, including non-borrowing spouses, will have a short period of time (for example, 30 days from a due and payable letter or an alternate time specified by the loan servicer if extensions are available under the circumstances) to purchase the property from the estate or, if the non-borrower inherits the property, pay the loan in full using any sources of funds available to them. Any non-borrowing individual, including a non-borrowing spouse, should have a plan to pay off an Equity Elite reverse mortgage upon the borrower’s death or any other maturity event. If the non-borrower is unwilling or unable to purchase the property or pay the loan in full, there is no protection for the non-borrower (including a non-borrower spouse) to maintain an interest in the home or to continue residing in the home past the maturity event and the non-borrower may be evicted upon foreclosure. The FHA HECM program has protections in place for certain non-borrowing parties, so a reverse mortgage applicant with certain non-borrowing parties should strongly consider a FHA-insured HECM loan (see HECM guidelines or ask an RMF representative for details). Under the Equity Elite reverse mortgage loan program, a maturity and/or default event occurs when the last surviving borrower no longer lives in the home as his or her primary residence for at least 12 months, the property charges (including taxes, insurance, or any other property charges) are not paid, required repairs are not completed or the property is not maintained, or any other maturity and/or default event, as specified in the Security Instrument, occurs.
*Source: Ionos, “EU Cookie laws and how they affect your business,” September 10, 2019.
**Not applicable in all states; some states may impose a higher age requirement. Visit www.reversefunding.com/equity-elite for details.