Campaign calls for united approach to Internet safety: Internet Scambusters #738
We're all aware of the importance of Internet safety, yet the scammers keep finding ways through our defenses.
Young people are particularly at risk, so they and their parents are the prime audience of Safer Internet Day on February 7, though there are useful tips for all of us, as we report in this week's issue.
We'll give you 10 top tips from one of the organizers plus, in our alert of the week, news of how to check if you're entitled to a refund from the Federal Trade Commission for being scammed.
However, before we begin, we first encourage you to take a look at this week's most popular articles from our other sites:
Will be done by the Editor(s)
Let's get started...
10 Top Tips for Internet Safety
A worldwide Internet safety campaign launches on February 7 -- Safer Internet Day (SID) -- with the theme "Be the change: Unite for a better Internet."
Despite all the efforts that go into improving online security, thousands of computers are hacked and identities stolen every hour of every day.
Perhaps even worse -- and it's one of the main drivers of Safer Internet Day -- many children are also exposed to all types of risks, from scams and cyber-bullying to potentially life-threatening incidents.
A particular concern is that children are now going online at a younger age than ever. They may be tech-savvy but they know next to nothing about the real world that underpins Internet activity.
Safer Internet Day is a partnership initiative of concerned organizations like the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Education Foundation and the National Center for missing and Exploited Children, plus technology companies such as Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter.
It's now held in more than 100 countries, including the United States and Canada. The U.S. host is the California-based non-profit ConnectSafely.org.
ConnectSafely has a huge database of resources and safety tips mainly aimed at young people and their parents.
Here's a quick rundown of their top suggestions:
1. Social networking: Treat people online the way you want them to treat you but be aware that some people who seem to be nice may be trying to get something from you. Don't meet in-person with people you met online. If you really think you should, tell your parents and don't go alone or without their approval.
2. Passwords: Don't share them even with friends and don't keep a note of them in places other people can see (like a sticky note on your monitor). Have different passwords for different sites, using a mix of at least 8 characters including capital letters and symbols. Don't use regular words that you'd find in a dictionary.
3. Location: Learn how to disable the location setting -- where the digital and physical world connect -- on your phone or tablet. There's a great tip sheet produced by the California Department of Justice, covering Android and Apple (iOS) devices: Location, Location, Location: Tips on Controlling Mobile Tracking. It includes extra information on email location tracking.
4. Cellphones: Don't let other people borrow or use your cellphone unless it's an emergency and you're with them to see what they do. Don't let them see your password or how you unlock the phone -- and lock it when you're not using it.
5. Identity theft: Find out how your (or your kids') school goes about protecting student data. Don't give Social Security numbers to anyone unless they have a proven, legitimate need. Ensure that all mobile devices, including laptops, are password or fingerprint protected. Keep track of your children's credit report as well as your own. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com for free reports.
6. Video gaming: Check and follow ratings for games to ensure they are age appropriate. If unsure, visit the Entertainment Software Rating Board's website. Check and use the safety settings in a game, including limiting play duration and pre-approving play requests from "friends."
7. Video sharing: Remember that anything you post online may ultimately be seen by anyone. Even if you delete it, someone may already have "snagged" it and shared it. And when you make a video, check what's in the background -- are you giving information away about where you live or go to school?
A further BIG WORD OF CAUTION: Everyone is recording video everywhere these days. You may not be aware, but always bear in mind, whatever you're doing, someone may be video taping it.
8. Anonymous apps: More online sites than ever now allow people to post without revealing their identity. That may be okay for you but it also allows others to anonymously contact you and maybe threaten you. If that happens, contact law enforcement. Also, although you may think you're anonymous, many of these websites collect information about you, including the location of your computer - remember, you may not be as "invisible" as you think.
9. Cyberbullying: If someone seems to be repeatedly threatening or making fun of you, that's cyberbullying. Don't retaliate -- that'll likely only make it worse. But save the evidence (see how to capture screen shots). Block the person on social media if you can. If it doesn't stop, seek help from someone you trust or from law enforcement.
10. Sharing provocative photos: It may seem like a way of flirting but this practice, which some people call "sexting," can lead to trouble. You have no control over who else sees it and certain type of photos are totally illegal. It might sound corny or old-fashioned but simply don't do it. The world is full of young people who regret sending these images but there likely aren't many who are glad they did!
Start the Conversation
If you're a parent, you can use Safer Internet Day as a good "excuse" for starting a conversation about online safety.
There's a narrow line that all parents have to tread between providing advice or guidance and intruding into young people's privacy. There's no easy answer to this -- but keeping the conversation channels open is one of the best things you can do to ensure their Internet safety.
Alert of the Week
Most people never see their money again when they've been scammed or deceived, but every so often the U.S. Federal Trade Commission gets its hands on some of the ill-gotten gains and gives it back to victims.
Could you be in line for a refund? Here's where to get more information and check out recent refund deals: Recent FTC Cases Resulting in Refunds.
Time to conclude for today -- have a great week!