It’s not a secret that the web is a hotspot for predators seeking under-aged victims for unwanted sexual come-ons, but perhaps less well known is that kids online are subject to scammers too.
That’s the warning coming from consumer protection officials this summer.
The long and sunny afternoons between June and September are well underway for most school-aged kids across the United States, but, for online-safety advocates, those languid hours of at-home time have a darker side when it comes to unsuspecting young ones.
“With schools out for summer, parents need to be armed with information to protect their children from potentially dangerous Internet predators who prey on kids,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said.
The need for heightened vigilance applies especially to Web-surfers between the ages of 10 and 17. Schneiderman’s office said that one in seven children within that age bracket has encountered an online scam or attempt to pry from them the kind of information that leads to compromised accounts and identity theft.
The following tips can help your child stay away from trouble, particularly that of the scamming kind:
- Place your home computer in a central location, such as a family room, to make it easier to monitor what websites your child is accessing.
- When it comes to the youngest users, control access by logging your child onto the Internet yourself and keep the password a secret.
- Advise your child not to use his or her full name when online.
- Instruct your child not to provide any personal information about him or herself or other family members without your permission.
- Encourage your child to tell you if something — or someone — online seems to want names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, or any private information about any member of the household.
- Tell them never to act first, if they are told by an online contact that they have to update any password or user name. Instruct kids to go first to a parent with such requests.
If your youngster does encounter something suspicious or threatening online, get in touch with your state attorney general.
“The Internet is an incredible resource, but it is also the crime scene of the 21st century,” Schneiderman said. “Report any suspicious activity online to our office so that we can stop cybercriminals in their tracks.”