Staying Safer Online

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"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do." --B. F. Skinner

While the internet can be an overwhelming place, take control of your online presence by following the tips below.
"Cyberbullying": An Emerging Trend
We hear regularly about the dangers of online dating, telephone scams, and identity theft. Yet still, somewhere between sporting events, school hallways, friends’ houses and part-time jobs, our youth is now exposed to a new and dangerous trend: “cyberbullying”. Online bullying, also known as cyberbullying, occurs when teens use the Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.
  • Never forward hurtful messages or share them online.
  • If you are being cyberbullied, delete harmful messages right away from your phone, online profile or email. If a problem persists, consider saving the messages offline and sharing them with an adult you trust, such as a parent, teacher, administrator, or law enforcement officer.
  • Organize a campaign at your school or community center to raise awareness about cyberbullying.

Keeping Our Children Safer Online
While Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) detectives work around the clock to prevent the solicitation of minors, parents play a strong role in preventing their children from being a victim of inappropriate contact online.
  • The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) serves a tremendous resource on matters related to cyber-bullying, sexting, solicitation, and other online matters. The NCMEC NetSmartz® Workshop provides in-depth information for parents in addition to the opportunity to find answers about the constantly evolving world of online surfing.
  • Set boundaries early with your child when it comes to sharing information online, and maintain visibility into your child's life online - even if it means keeping the family computer in plain sight and never behind closed doors.
  • If your child begins exhibiting erratic behavior such as mood swings and suddenly wants to keep what he or she is doing online private from you, seek help and talk to someone in law enforcement right away. It could be due to a relationship your child is having online.
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Avoid Fraud at Any Cost
The number of internet fraud and identity theft scams is only limited to a criminal’s imagination. Follow these tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud and identity theft:
  • Never pay fees or a deposit upfront for something that would not normally have significant upfront costs, such as a sweepstakes. If a deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is. These amazing offers are oftentimes sent out via e-mail. Pay no attention to them and delete them immediately.
  • Never give out personal information such as your social security number or credit card numbers on unprotected internet sites. Make sure the website is protected before giving out personal information. If you are giving this type of information to a company for the first time, do your research on the business beforehand. Read reviews on the company and make sure it is a company that can be trusted. The Better Business Bureau is a great resource that provides consumers with useful information on businesses and their ratings: www.bbb.org.
  • If you decide to meet someone in person to sell or buy an item from an online advertisement, make sure you have a friend or family member accompany you and communicate with others about your whereabouts. If possible, meet in a well populated, safe location such as a restaurant or busy area of town.

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Are You Leaving a Trail? Protecting Your Identity Online
"Identity theft" is the criminal use of an individual's personal identification information and in 1998 became a federal crime. There are many methods in which criminals obtain your personal information. Some methods criminals use through your computer include malware and computer viruses, keylogging, fire-sharing and phishing using counterfeit websites and emails.

Across the country, a person is victimized by identity theft every 8.7 seconds (source: FBI-LEEDA). If you have not already been a victim of identity theft, that somebody could be you. Take steps to protect your identity and those of your children online by following these tips.
  • Do not broadcast your personal information in public or on social media.
  • Never enter personal or financial information on a website (especially when shopping online) when the web address does not begin with "https://". The "s" stands for secure.
  • Never click on links in an email. The email could be fraudulent. Instead, if you receive a notice from the government, bank, or other account (for example, eBay) and you think it might be real, call or visit the organization's website directly.
  • For more information on ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from identity theft, including information on how to order your free credit report, visit the Federal Trade Commission online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
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