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Category: Online Safety for Kids

Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Internet Safety for Kids

We understand that online safety is a top priority for parents and teachers who are providing internet access to younger children and teens alike. Safe search resources for the internet should not replace proper parental or teacher supervision.

Here are few tips to encourage internet safety when surfing the world wide web whether at home or in school.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Have an open conversation with your kids about safe browsing and computer use. With freedom comes responsibility.

Do not replace parental or teacher supervision of computer use at home or at school with our safe search engine or any other. No search filtering software or tool is perfect.

A good rule of thumb is to not allow internet use when a child is home alone without proper supervision, even with this Search Site for Kids search engine.

Educate yourself on social media safety and have open discussions with teens about present dangers and long term effects of inappropriate conduct, including posting pictures online.

Keep your computer in an open area. If your computer is in a home office, make a rule that doors are always left open when online.

It’s not a good idea to allow computers or laptops in your kids bedrooms, even while using the free internet filter, unless they are close to the main area of the house such as the kitchen or living room with doors left open.

Educate yourself on how to stay safe when using social media: Read about social media safety for teens.

Do not allow internet use after you’ve gone to bed at night no matter how good your computer security software is or how confident you are in kids search engines.

Consider installing parental control software to give you completed control over how kids access the internet.

Do not allow file sharing programs to be installed on your computer. Only use safe and secure music download programs from trusted sources on the internet.

Internet Safety Tips  – What Kids Can Do!

Do not give out personal information about yourself online without your parent’s permission. This includes your name, where you live or your telephone number.

Never to agree to meet someone that you have met online. If you do not know the person in ‘real life’, tell your parents about anyone this is asking to meet you.

Talk to your parents first about pictures you want to post online, whether they be of yourself or your friends and family members.

Do not respond to messages you receive that are mean or speaking meanly about others. Tell your parents about these messages.

Do not give out any of your passwords to friends or anyone you meet online.

Check with your parents first before downloading or installing any software on your computer.

Ensure privacy settings on activated on all of social media websites you use.

Always be kind of others online. Do not do anything that may hurt others including joining in conversations discussing other people’s problems.

Be careful about discussing details about your own personal problems with your friends online. It is better to speak to them in person. Tell your parents or teacher if you are struggling with something.

Remember that the rules for online safety also apply to texting on your phone.

Agree to computer rules set up by your parents, teachers or guardians. With freedom and trust comes the expectation that you will act responsibly.

Internet Filtering Software Solutions!

Internet Accountability: The Covenant Eyes Filter provides options: Decide the times of day the Internet may be used, and how much time per day or per week the Internet may be surfed under each username. Choose whether to block or to allow specific websites specific to each username.  This software can be used to help block instant messaging, file sharing, and other protocols. The basic Covenant Eyes Accountability feature teaches safe browsing habits. Just knowing that an extra set of eyes in watching, encourages your family members to be responsible when surfing the internet. Learn more.

For complete control, especially for younger children or for those times you are not available to monitor computer activity, explore parental control software which actually blocks access to inappropriate content online.

If your child is searching for videos on YouTube, learn how you can activate YouTube parental controls.

Internet safety should be the first priority of any parent or guardian when seeking protection of children online. It certainly can be a balance to juggle freedom on the internet with a safe level of online restrictions. Implement safe search using a kids search engine along with a filtering software program. Safe Search for Kids is designed to work hand in hand with supervision by parents and educators.

We understand that online safety is a top priority for parents and teachers who are providing internet access to younger children and teens alike. Safe search resources for the internet should not replace proper parental or teacher supervision.

Here are few tips to encourage internet safety when surfing the world wide web whether at home or in school.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Have an open conversation with your kids about safe browsing and computer use. With freedom comes responsibility.

Do not replace parental or teacher supervision of computer use at home or at school with our safe search engine or any other. No search filtering software or tool is perfect.

A good rule of thumb is to not allow internet use when a child is home alone without proper supervision, even with this Search Site for Kids search engine.

Educate yourself on social media safety and have open discussions with teens about present dangers and long term effects of inappropriate conduct, including posting pictures online.

Keep your computer in an open area. If your computer is in a home office, make a rule that doors are always left open when online.

It’s not a good idea to allow computers or laptops in your kids bedrooms, even while using the free internet filter, unless they are close to the main area of the house such as the kitchen or living room with doors left open.

Educate yourself on how to stay safe when using social media: Read about social media safety for teens.

Do not allow internet use after you’ve gone to bed at night no matter how good your computer security software is or how confident you are in kids search engines.

Consider installing parental control software to give you completed control over how kids access the internet.

Do not allow file sharing programs to be installed on your computer. Only use safe and secure music download programs from trusted sources on the internet.

Internet Safety Tips  – What Kids Can Do!

Do not give out personal information about yourself online without your parent’s permission. This includes your name, where you live or your telephone number.

Never to agree to meet someone that you have met online. If you do not know the person in ‘real life’, tell your parents about anyone this is asking to meet you.

Talk to your parents first about pictures you want to post online, whether they be of yourself or your friends and family members.

Do not respond to messages you receive that are mean or speaking meanly about others. Tell your parents about these messages.

Do not give out any of your passwords to friends or anyone you meet online.

Check with your parents first before downloading or installing any software on your computer.

Ensure privacy settings on activated on all of social media websites you use.

Always be kind of others online. Do not do anything that may hurt others including joining in conversations discussing other people’s problems.

Be careful about discussing details about your own personal problems with your friends online. It is better to speak to them in person. Tell your parents or teacher if you are struggling with something.

Remember that the rules for online safety also apply to texting on your phone.

Agree to computer rules set up by your parents, teachers or guardians. With freedom and trust comes the expectation that you will act responsibly.

Internet Filtering Software Solutions!

Internet Accountability: The Covenant Eyes Filter provides options: Decide the times of day the Internet may be used, and how much time per day or per week the Internet may be surfed under each username. Choose whether to block or to allow specific websites specific to each username.  This software can be used to help block instant messaging, file sharing, and other protocols. The basic Covenant Eyes Accountability feature teaches safe browsing habits. Just knowing that an extra set of eyes in watching, encourages your family members to be responsible when surfing the internet. Learn more.

For complete control, especially for younger children or for those times you are not available to monitor computer activity, explore parental control software which actually blocks access to inappropriate content online.

If your child is searching for videos on YouTube, learn how you can activate YouTube parental controls.

Internet safety should be the first priority of any parent or guardian when seeking protection of children online. It certainly can be a balance to juggle freedom on the internet with a safe level of online restrictions. Implement safe search using a kids search engine along with a filtering software program. Safe Search for Kids is designed to work hand in hand with supervision by parents and educators.

How to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time

how to reduce child's screen time

The time we used to spend outdoors, in cars, shopping malls, or just hanging out with friends, we now spend indoors watching TV or using smartphones much of the time. Adults have a hard enough time as it is to limit their screen time, so what about the children?

Such a routine is not ideal for young eyes. Their screen use has increased drastically. Online sessions have replaced classrooms, and the time they used playing in the grounds is now spent watching online videos, playing games, or Face-timing with friends.

Although it is understandable that parents currently have their hands full with remote working, homeschooling, and running the household, they are sometimes guilty of using digital devices as a babysitter. And although parents need a break too, they must establish limits regarding acceptable limits regarding screen time.

Reducing your child’s screen time can significantly lessen digital eye strain symptoms that include blurry vision, tired eyes, and headaches. Here are some ways you can take control and reduce screen time during times at home.

1. Reduce your Screen time first

Yes, it has to start with you. Kids look up to parents, and if you don’t reduce your screen time, you cannot make your children do so. There are some software and apps that you can install on your phone, and monitor how much time you spend on your phone and other digital activities. Some phones come with inbuilt features and monitor the overall usage and time you spend on individual apps.

If you spend two hours on an app every day, reduce it to one hour and then gradually, into half an hour. Once you do that, you would be surprised to see how much time you have for other activities. But it’s not about your screen time in the first place; you are doing this for your children.

Enjoy screen-free meals

The idea should be to enjoy meals. It has become a norm to eat meals in front of a TV or using cellphones that results in distracted eating. You are more focused on what is happening on the screen than what we are putting in our mouth.

Mealtimes are great for social interaction. And these days have provided both parents and children to spend more quality time with each other. So, tell your children that no phones will be allowed on the table during meals. Make them leave their phones in another room away from the table.

Call your friends and family

Traditional phone calls have become a thing of the past now. If you notice, you would prefer to send a text message or a voice mail than answering a call. But phone calls are important. And psychologically beneficial too. Direct voice communication can even save relationships, which has become crucial when families and friends are living in isolation.

Call up a friend or family member. Make your children call their friends or grandparents. And then assess how you feel after hanging up the phone. Phone calls are a great way to connect when you cannot be together physically. Video calls are great as well. At least your child won’t be tapping away on the screen, texting or scrolling down Facebook.

Read at least one chapter every day

Why one chapter? Well, if you haven’t read books in a while, you cannot finish an entire book in a day. If not one, go for at least two. Reading is one of the best hobbies, and you should urge your children to read more. Also, if the book is unable to capture their interest or attention, they can always pick up another one.

Ebooks and audiobook rentals are available at local libraries easily. Indulge in reading with your children. You can do various activities. Choose books to read for the week, and then ask your children what they learned from it. Also, you can take turns reading as a family.

Take a break from digital devices

The key is to gradually reduce screen time and cut it down as much as you can. But as said earlier, doing it in quarantine gets a bit difficult. You can start with short breaks and encourage your children to give their eyes and their devices some rest. Make a timetable for your children that they have to take a short break every hour. You can go outside in the backyard or garden. Do some chore, solve a puzzle or anything that does not involve screens.

With short breaks, the focus gets better. And eventually, you would find these habits becoming addictive. When you step away from the screens for 10 minutes, it will slowly increase to 20 minutes. You would find yourself doing other things and getting accustomed to it. Now, this might be easier with young children but not with teens. Excessive screen use not only harms the eyes but spending too much time on social media has negative impacts on psychological health. Social media is addictive, and if you think that your teen is not going to break free anytime soon, you need to take some strict measures. Get the Xnspy monitoring app designed for parents to keep a check on your teen’s digital activities.

The app monitors text messages, call logs, emails, locations, web browsing history, and a lot more. There are numerous remote functionalities too. If you think your teens are not following rules and using screens when they are supposed to be taking a break or doing something else, you can learn how to remotely shut or lock the device.

Indulge in a new hobby

Everyone person wants to learn something or know something they have been interested in for a long time. Now maybe the best time to experience or learn new things. Help your child finding a new hobby. It can be growing a veggie garden, a DIY project at home, beginner cooking skills, organizing, or anything else. Children are using tablets and phones excessively due to the monotonous routine during the quarantine. When there is something new to do, they are going to distance themselves from the screens on their own.

And even if you use screens to learn a new craft like YouTube. See that you watch the tutorial and then get to work.

The occasional laziness is okay

While all of the above tips work and bring results, you cannot spend the entire quarantine self-improving. Leave some room for relaxation. And it is alright if your child spends an hour more on-screen once a week. Do not feel guilty about it.

We all have a lot of time on our hands that we can use to reflect upon ourselves or relax. Enjoy nature and your surroundings. Plan a lunch or breakfast in the backyard/garden. Ask your children to come up with ideas for décor. And also the menu. You have to make use of what you have and feel blessed.

Mindfulness and meditation do not require physical activity but can boost your mental health and give you a new perspective. There are many ways you can practice these things with children and make them feel more attuned to their surroundings away from the digital world.

Try out these, and gradually, you will see great results!

The time we used to spend outdoors, in cars, shopping malls, or just hanging out with friends, we now spend indoors watching TV or using smartphones much of the time. Adults have a hard enough time as it is to limit their screen time, so what about the children?

Such a routine is not ideal for young eyes. Their screen use has increased drastically. Online sessions have replaced classrooms, and the time they used playing in the grounds is now spent watching online videos, playing games, or Face-timing with friends.

Although it is understandable that parents currently have their hands full with remote working, homeschooling, and running the household, they are sometimes guilty of using digital devices as a babysitter. And although parents need a break too, they must establish limits regarding acceptable limits regarding screen time.

Reducing your child’s screen time can significantly lessen digital eye strain symptoms that include blurry vision, tired eyes, and headaches. Here are some ways you can take control and reduce screen time during times at home.

1. Reduce your Screen time first

Yes, it has to start with you. Kids look up to parents, and if you don’t reduce your screen time, you cannot make your children do so. There are some software and apps that you can install on your phone, and monitor how much time you spend on your phone and other digital activities. Some phones come with inbuilt features and monitor the overall usage and time you spend on individual apps.

If you spend two hours on an app every day, reduce it to one hour and then gradually, into half an hour. Once you do that, you would be surprised to see how much time you have for other activities. But it’s not about your screen time in the first place; you are doing this for your children.

Enjoy screen-free meals

The idea should be to enjoy meals. It has become a norm to eat meals in front of a TV or using cellphones that results in distracted eating. You are more focused on what is happening on the screen than what we are putting in our mouth.

Mealtimes are great for social interaction. And these days have provided both parents and children to spend more quality time with each other. So, tell your children that no phones will be allowed on the table during meals. Make them leave their phones in another room away from the table.

Call your friends and family

Traditional phone calls have become a thing of the past now. If you notice, you would prefer to send a text message or a voice mail than answering a call. But phone calls are important. And psychologically beneficial too. Direct voice communication can even save relationships, which has become crucial when families and friends are living in isolation.

Call up a friend or family member. Make your children call their friends or grandparents. And then assess how you feel after hanging up the phone. Phone calls are a great way to connect when you cannot be together physically. Video calls are great as well. At least your child won’t be tapping away on the screen, texting or scrolling down Facebook.

Read at least one chapter every day

Why one chapter? Well, if you haven’t read books in a while, you cannot finish an entire book in a day. If not one, go for at least two. Reading is one of the best hobbies, and you should urge your children to read more. Also, if the book is unable to capture their interest or attention, they can always pick up another one.

Ebooks and audiobook rentals are available at local libraries easily. Indulge in reading with your children. You can do various activities. Choose books to read for the week, and then ask your children what they learned from it. Also, you can take turns reading as a family.

Take a break from digital devices

The key is to gradually reduce screen time and cut it down as much as you can. But as said earlier, doing it in quarantine gets a bit difficult. You can start with short breaks and encourage your children to give their eyes and their devices some rest. Make a timetable for your children that they have to take a short break every hour. You can go outside in the backyard or garden. Do some chore, solve a puzzle or anything that does not involve screens.

With short breaks, the focus gets better. And eventually, you would find these habits becoming addictive. When you step away from the screens for 10 minutes, it will slowly increase to 20 minutes. You would find yourself doing other things and getting accustomed to it. Now, this might be easier with young children but not with teens. Excessive screen use not only harms the eyes but spending too much time on social media has negative impacts on psychological health. Social media is addictive, and if you think that your teen is not going to break free anytime soon, you need to take some strict measures. Get the Xnspy monitoring app designed for parents to keep a check on your teen’s digital activities.

The app monitors text messages, call logs, emails, locations, web browsing history, and a lot more. There are numerous remote functionalities too. If you think your teens are not following rules and using screens when they are supposed to be taking a break or doing something else, you can learn how to remotely shut or lock the device.

Indulge in a new hobby

Everyone person wants to learn something or know something they have been interested in for a long time. Now maybe the best time to experience or learn new things. Help your child finding a new hobby. It can be growing a veggie garden, a DIY project at home, beginner cooking skills, organizing, or anything else. Children are using tablets and phones excessively due to the monotonous routine during the quarantine. When there is something new to do, they are going to distance themselves from the screens on their own.

And even if you use screens to learn a new craft like YouTube. See that you watch the tutorial and then get to work.

The occasional laziness is okay

While all of the above tips work and bring results, you cannot spend the entire quarantine self-improving. Leave some room for relaxation. And it is alright if your child spends an hour more on-screen once a week. Do not feel guilty about it.

We all have a lot of time on our hands that we can use to reflect upon ourselves or relax. Enjoy nature and your surroundings. Plan a lunch or breakfast in the backyard/garden. Ask your children to come up with ideas for décor. And also the menu. You have to make use of what you have and feel blessed.

Mindfulness and meditation do not require physical activity but can boost your mental health and give you a new perspective. There are many ways you can practice these things with children and make them feel more attuned to their surroundings away from the digital world.

Try out these, and gradually, you will see great results!

Student Data Privacy in the Modern Classroom

Student Data Privacy

As we move to distance learning due to the recent health crisis, it’s more important than ever to carefully consider the implications of transferring student data between parents, teachers, and administrators. Educational technology is now a standard across classrooms—so what exactly does that mean for our students?

Risk of Student Data Breaches

From 2018 to 2019, student data breaches tripled. In the worst case, the student’s personally identifiable information, or PII, was sold on the dark web. Even on a small scale, these breaches mean the potential for hackers to decode passwords. In these cases, student’s accounts are compromised, and there have even been reported cases of cyberbullying.

Lengthier Education Records

Years ago, the extent of student data was education records stuffed into file cabinets. Oftentimes, those records were lost or tampered with. Ultimately, they didn’t follow students as far as education records will today. Solidified on the web, students have little room for mistakes in the current climate.

It’s important to consider these factors when employing new chatrooms or technology mediums in classrooms. Ensuring all edtech helps, instead of hinders, student’s futures should be an educator’s number one priority.

Responsible Student Data Privacy in the Classroom

Student data privacy laws on a federal and state level monitor some of these potential risks on a micro-level. As an educator, though, you must take proactive measures to protect student data privacy. Consider the following when implementing education technology in digital and physical classrooms:

  • Follow FERPA Sherpa: Use resources available from the government to understand the concerns with edtech in the classroom.
  • Read the privacy policy: Before having students visit a website, make sure you read the privacy policy thoroughly. It may indicate it sells data to third parties, or worse, does not have a privacy policy in place at all.
  • Follow the school’s approved list: Districts and schools will have an approved list of companies and websites to use in the classroom. Seek out this approval before asking students to use a program or website.
  • Explain best practices: Explain best practices for safe web use to your students, and lead by example. Inform them of the dangers of sharing personal information online and not to believe everything they read online.
  • Avoid clickwrap agreements: If a website in question has a clickwrap agreement, avoid using it in the classroom. These agreements are data-controlling and have free use of information used on their site.
  • Look for secure sites: the “s” in ‘https’ signifies that a webpage is encrypted. Any site where students need to log in to an account should be encrypted.

The advancement of tech in education can be a benefit for efficient, personalized learning, but it’s important to take extra measures to protect the new influx of data. With proper vetting of websites, technologies, and platforms; technology can be an advantage for students, parents, and teachers.

As we move to distance learning due to the recent health crisis, it’s more important than ever to carefully consider the implications of transferring student data between parents, teachers, and administrators. Educational technology is now a standard across classrooms—so what exactly does that mean for our students?

Risk of Student Data Breaches

From 2018 to 2019, student data breaches tripled. In the worst case, the student’s personally identifiable information, or PII, was sold on the dark web. Even on a small scale, these breaches mean the potential for hackers to decode passwords. In these cases, student’s accounts are compromised, and there have even been reported cases of cyberbullying.

Lengthier Education Records

Years ago, the extent of student data was education records stuffed into file cabinets. Oftentimes, those records were lost or tampered with. Ultimately, they didn’t follow students as far as education records will today. Solidified on the web, students have little room for mistakes in the current climate.

It’s important to consider these factors when employing new chatrooms or technology mediums in classrooms. Ensuring all edtech helps, instead of hinders, student’s futures should be an educator’s number one priority.

Responsible Student Data Privacy in the Classroom

Student data privacy laws on a federal and state level monitor some of these potential risks on a micro-level. As an educator, though, you must take proactive measures to protect student data privacy. Consider the following when implementing education technology in digital and physical classrooms:

  • Follow FERPA Sherpa: Use resources available from the government to understand the concerns with edtech in the classroom.
  • Read the privacy policy: Before having students visit a website, make sure you read the privacy policy thoroughly. It may indicate it sells data to third parties, or worse, does not have a privacy policy in place at all.
  • Follow the school’s approved list: Districts and schools will have an approved list of companies and websites to use in the classroom. Seek out this approval before asking students to use a program or website.
  • Explain best practices: Explain best practices for safe web use to your students, and lead by example. Inform them of the dangers of sharing personal information online and not to believe everything they read online.
  • Avoid clickwrap agreements: If a website in question has a clickwrap agreement, avoid using it in the classroom. These agreements are data-controlling and have free use of information used on their site.
  • Look for secure sites: the “s” in ‘https’ signifies that a webpage is encrypted. Any site where students need to log in to an account should be encrypted.

The advancement of tech in education can be a benefit for efficient, personalized learning, but it’s important to take extra measures to protect the new influx of data. With proper vetting of websites, technologies, and platforms; technology can be an advantage for students, parents, and teachers.

Beware of Online Scams (Phishing, SMishing, Vishing)

Beware of Phone Scams

Anyone who is connected to the internet will be a target of online scams. These scams are common and come in a variety of ways. Scams may be on your smart phone via text, in an email and even in the form of a phone call. The key to keeping yourself safe from getting scammed is to be aware of various methods scammers use to try and trick you.

Scammers want to get money out of you. They do this by stealing your personal information and having you pay for something you don’t need. Once you are more attentive to the methods online scammer use, you’ll be more quipped to recognize them and even more importantly, ignore them.

Let’s review what these methods are and also give you some tips on how to confirm whether an email, text or phone call is legitimate or not. There are three main ways scam artists use to get your attention and fool you. Phishing, SMishing and Vishing. Here is what each of them mean and how you can protect yourself if presented by one of these methods.

Phishing

Phishing happens when a scam is sent to you via email. Most often, a scammer will invite you to click a link to gain access to your personal information. They will pose as a legitimate company, such as a bank, an online streaming service or social media platform. Basically, any online account you may or may not have is fair game.

You may not even use one of these services and wonder why they are targeting you. This is why it’s called Phishing. The term was created to sound like the word ‘fishing’. Someone fishing on a lake will cast their hook out into the water. They don’t know how many fish are in the lake. They don’t see the fish or know whether any of them are even interested in the bait on the hook. But the person fishing knows there may be at least one fish that will take a bite and be hooked. Another way to look at it is this. Imagine someone fishing from a boat with a large net. Not all the fish will be caught, but many will.

In the same way an online scammer will send the same email to millions of people. It may be for a company you don’t have an account to. But many other people getting the same email could be tricked into clicking the link. By doing so they will log in to a fake website and the scammer will capture their username and password. This will give the scammer access to the user’s real account in order to steal their identity.

How to Protect Yourself: Never click on a link you receive in an email, even if you think the email is legitimate from an account you have. Simply go to your web browser and visit your account’s website directly or by using a bookmark you’ve created. Log in from there and check to see if there are any issues with your account.

Phishing only works because people are not paying attention. For example, let’s say you just ordered a package from Amazon. Shortly afterward, an email arrives stating that there is something wrong with your shipment. This is probably a coincidence. You can see how easy it would be to click the link since you just sent a package.

SMishing

SMishing is when a scammer sends a message to you via text. It is called SMishing because texting is also known as SMS (short message services). Just like Phishing, criminals who want to steal your information or money cast a wide net via text to catch people off guard. SMishing is a more recent problem. There has been a lot of information about email scams over the past few years. Now, we need to be also be on the look out for SMishing scams on our phones. Most often these are security texts which appears to be from a bank stating that something is wrong with your account. The goal is the same. To trick you into giving over your personal information.

SMishing may also come in the form of a positive message. It may be a great deal on something but by clicking you may end up paying for something you won’t receive. Most recently with the Coronavirus outbreak, there have been text scams offering free face masks or hand sanitizer.

How to Protect Yourself: Be careful when clicking links in a text. Never click on a link associated with an account you may have, such as a bank account or any online account, including Spotify or Facebook. Of course, friends may send you links to websites or videos. In that case, just be extra careful and pay close attention to who is sending you the link.

Vishing

The “V” in Vishing stands for voice call scams. We’ve all received them. We’ve all been greatly annoyed by these scam phone calls that come from a foreign or strange looking phone number. Worse yet, many calls that are spoofed to look like a local number. The Spoofing of a phone number is when a caller makes it look like they are calling from a particular number, but the call is actually from different location altogether.

Just like other scams you need to be ready to think before you respond. The call may sound like it’s from a legitimate establishment. Adults are often tricked into thinking the call is from their government’s tax collection service. If the call is fact real, they won’t be threatening the receiver with arrest by the police if they don’t pay immediately, as scammers often do.

How to Protect Yourself: Never give any personal information over the phone, even if the person sounds like they are from a real company. If in doubt, hang up and call the company directly. If the caller is uttering threats or demanding information or money, hang up! You can also do your part to stop the scammer by reporting it. Google the contact information for your country’s anti-fraud center. You can call them or submit a report online from their website.

Protecting Your Computer from Scams:

On a final note, it’s important for anyone with a computer or laptop to also protect themselves from malware and viruses. If you accidentally click on a bad email link, you have better protection with a secure computer.

  1. Make sure your operating system’s security features are activated and up to date.
  2. Then install a reputable anti-malware software program. This type of program will also offer protection when surfing the web, in the event you land on an infected website that is trying to access your personal information.

These types of malicious websites may also try to secretly install malware on your computer and direct you to fake websites. You could also be infecting other computers through email without your knowledge.

To ensure you don’t have malware currently on your computer, you can do a free scan using MalwareBytes.

Who likes games?
Take the STOP SCAM SLAM Test!

Anyone who is connected to the internet will be a target of online scams. These scams are common and come in a variety of ways. Scams may be on your smart phone via text, in an email and even in the form of a phone call. The key to keeping yourself safe from getting scammed is to be aware of various methods scammers use to try and trick you.

Scammers want to get money out of you. They do this by stealing your personal information and having you pay for something you don’t need. Once you are more attentive to the methods online scammer use, you’ll be more quipped to recognize them and even more importantly, ignore them.

Let’s review what these methods are and also give you some tips on how to confirm whether an email, text or phone call is legitimate or not. There are three main ways scam artists use to get your attention and fool you. Phishing, SMishing and Vishing. Here is what each of them mean and how you can protect yourself if presented by one of these methods.

Phishing

Phishing happens when a scam is sent to you via email. Most often, a scammer will invite you to click a link to gain access to your personal information. They will pose as a legitimate company, such as a bank, an online streaming service or social media platform. Basically, any online account you may or may not have is fair game.

You may not even use one of these services and wonder why they are targeting you. This is why it’s called Phishing. The term was created to sound like the word ‘fishing’. Someone fishing on a lake will cast their hook out into the water. They don’t know how many fish are in the lake. They don’t see the fish or know whether any of them are even interested in the bait on the hook. But the person fishing knows there may be at least one fish that will take a bite and be hooked. Another way to look at it is this. Imagine someone fishing from a boat with a large net. Not all the fish will be caught, but many will.

In the same way an online scammer will send the same email to millions of people. It may be for a company you don’t have an account to. But many other people getting the same email could be tricked into clicking the link. By doing so they will log in to a fake website and the scammer will capture their username and password. This will give the scammer access to the user’s real account in order to steal their identity.

How to Protect Yourself: Never click on a link you receive in an email, even if you think the email is legitimate from an account you have. Simply go to your web browser and visit your account’s website directly or by using a bookmark you’ve created. Log in from there and check to see if there are any issues with your account.

Phishing only works because people are not paying attention. For example, let’s say you just ordered a package from Amazon. Shortly afterward, an email arrives stating that there is something wrong with your shipment. This is probably a coincidence. You can see how easy it would be to click the link since you just sent a package.

SMishing

SMishing is when a scammer sends a message to you via text. It is called SMishing because texting is also known as SMS (short message services). Just like Phishing, criminals who want to steal your information or money cast a wide net via text to catch people off guard. SMishing is a more recent problem. There has been a lot of information about email scams over the past few years. Now, we need to be also be on the look out for SMishing scams on our phones. Most often these are security texts which appears to be from a bank stating that something is wrong with your account. The goal is the same. To trick you into giving over your personal information.

SMishing may also come in the form of a positive message. It may be a great deal on something but by clicking you may end up paying for something you won’t receive. Most recently with the Coronavirus outbreak, there have been text scams offering free face masks or hand sanitizer.

How to Protect Yourself: Be careful when clicking links in a text. Never click on a link associated with an account you may have, such as a bank account or any online account, including Spotify or Facebook. Of course, friends may send you links to websites or videos. In that case, just be extra careful and pay close attention to who is sending you the link.

Vishing

The “V” in Vishing stands for voice call scams. We’ve all received them. We’ve all been greatly annoyed by these scam phone calls that come from a foreign or strange looking phone number. Worse yet, many calls that are spoofed to look like a local number. The Spoofing of a phone number is when a caller makes it look like they are calling from a particular number, but the call is actually from different location altogether.

Just like other scams you need to be ready to think before you respond. The call may sound like it’s from a legitimate establishment. Adults are often tricked into thinking the call is from their government’s tax collection service. If the call is fact real, they won’t be threatening the receiver with arrest by the police if they don’t pay immediately, as scammers often do.

How to Protect Yourself: Never give any personal information over the phone, even if the person sounds like they are from a real company. If in doubt, hang up and call the company directly. If the caller is uttering threats or demanding information or money, hang up! You can also do your part to stop the scammer by reporting it. Google the contact information for your country’s anti-fraud center. You can call them or submit a report online from their website.

Protecting Your Computer from Scams:

On a final note, it’s important for anyone with a computer or laptop to also protect themselves from malware and viruses. If you accidentally click on a bad email link, you have better protection with a secure computer.

  1. Make sure your operating system’s security features are activated and up to date.
  2. Then install a reputable anti-malware software program. This type of program will also offer protection when surfing the web, in the event you land on an infected website that is trying to access your personal information.

These types of malicious websites may also try to secretly install malware on your computer and direct you to fake websites. You could also be infecting other computers through email without your knowledge.

To ensure you don’t have malware currently on your computer, you can do a free scan using MalwareBytes.

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