Online Security and Safety

  • Amy

The good ole days of having to go to the bank and line up to pay for a bill or even drive to a mall to get a gift is a thing of the past. Of course, you can still do it if you like but there is a new way to do all this. It’s called online banking and shopping. You can literally do it all without having to leave your home. It is fast and convenient but it also opens the door to security and safety issues. Scammers may try to trick you to sending them money or even your personal information.

Learn how to look out for common scams and fraud. Make sure you update your computer antivirus software and antispyware programs and never give out your password or sensitive information to someone you don’t trust. If your operating system does not offer free spyware protection (programs to prevent software from collecting information about you without your consent), you can find inexpensive software to download from the internet or at your local computer store.  Be careful of ads on the internet offering downloadable spyware. You should only install programs from a trusted source.

Best to not use the same password for multiple accounts. If someone hacks into one account and your passwords are so predictable you are at risk of all your other accounts. Avoid using names, dates and common words. Be mindful when you are buying or banking online and only use websites that uses encryption to protect your information as it goes from your computer to their servers. Educate your kids so they are aware of dangers of giving out personal information and going on sites or clicking on things that might pose a threat.

If you believe you have been a victim of an internet-related crime, report it to these government authorities:

  • The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)refers internet-related criminal complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement. Keep in mind, you will need to contact your credit card company directly to notify them if you are disputing unauthorized charges on your card or if you suspect that your credit card number has been compromised.  
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)shares consumer complaints covering a wide range of categories, including online scams, with local, state, federal, and foreign law enforcement partners. It cannot resolve individual complaints but can give you information on the next steps to take.
  • EConsumer.gov accepts complaints about online and related transactions with foreign companies.
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ)helps you report computer, internet-related, or intellectual property crime to the proper agency based on the scope of the crime.