Everyone always asks where the tech geek is, but never how the tech geek is. For that reason, we want to offer a little support to the techy folks out there. Are you your family’s de facto information technology (IT) person? The answer might be yes if you keep up with the latest tech trends and advancements or find yourself always tasked with answering the toughest, tech-related questions, such as: Why is the printer not printing? Can I trust this email? How can I unlock my account? Chances are, whether or not you signed up for the job, the people around you expect answers.

As hardware and software evolve at lightning speeds, it’s important to keep pace as best you can. If you want to give yourself and your loved ones more tech-savvy support, this guide can spruce up your skills, establish family-friendly best practices and offer ideas on keeping everyone a little safer in the virtual world.

Hardware: Tips for tidying up
“Are you holding on to digital items because of an attachment to the past? A fear of the future?” – Marie Kondo, Washington Post

Marie Kondo, New York Times bestselling author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” may be famous for helping people declutter physical spaces, but she believes the same holds true for digital places, too. Try sparking joy with these tips for your family’s hardware.

Delete old data
Don’t procrastinate. Once you’ve upgraded to the latest laptop or smartphone, clear the data off your old device immediately. If it sits around too long, you likely won’t remember the potentially important data or passwords stored on its hard drive or have the right technology to erase the data. Online videos provide guides for transferring data to an external hard drive or a digital “cloud.” Your local computer shop can help transfer or erase your data for those who are technologically hesitant.

Reduce, reuse, recycle
Environmentally conscious techies can donate, sell, or recycle old devices to avoid gathering dust in closets or adding dangerous chemicals to landfills. Organizations like Dell Reconnect partner with Goodwill and will accept devices at all donation locations. Remember to save receipts. That way, you can deduct these donations from your federal tax return.

Control your cords
Labeling all wires and cables as soon as you get them can help prevent a tangled mess in the future. Zipped bags come in handy for neatly securing chargers and connecting wires. For unidentified cables, date them and place them in a box. After six months, check to see if they’ve found their rightful device. If not, it’s likely safe to toss them.

Software: Rules of the road for new digital citizens
According to a 2020 fraud report conducted by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, cybercrimes in the United States against adults aged 60 and older resulted in approximately $1 billion in losses – a 30% increase from previous years.

The internet can be an unwieldy place, especially for loved ones who felt more at ease in the days of the rotary phone and snail mail. Here are three ways to help defend your parents’ or grandparents’ digital devices.

Turn on automatic updates
Most devices deliver updates on a regular schedule, with the majority being security related. Security updates close loopholes that could have left devices vulnerable to compromise, so it’s recommended to have these installed automatically for the ease of users who might not understand how to do it manually.

Block out scams
There are several ways to proactively mitigate risks while surfing the internet. Installing paid-for antivirus software is the best first defense. Be wary of any “free” antivirus ads, as they can be scams themselves. Let everyone know they should never click on unknown links sent via email or text. If your family is inundated with robocalls and texts, add your numbers to the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call registry.

Password management
Digital password managers can be a great tool for keeping login information neatly filed away. However, many IT experts say these tools can also be breached and pose a security risk. Much to some older adults’ delight, one IT professional recommends staying analog for password security. A hard-copy book stored in a locked safe or secure location will do the trick. You should never reuse passwords and change them immediately if you suspect an account has been compromised.

Seeking more support?
Remember, your trusted financial advisor also has tools to help fight off financial fraud and can point you in the right direction for safeguarding finances online.


This material has been created by Raymond James for use by its financial advisors.