Safer on the Internet

The internet is an amazing place. It can literally bring the world into your home. But be careful who you invite there by taking steps to be safer online.

Several readers have asked for more tips and information about online safety. From General Safety tips to reminder sheets you can download, free software for better browsing and information on phishing, ID theft, safer shopping and kid safety – Bookmark this page, this one’s for you!

GENERAL 

How to Be Safe on the Internet -wiikiHow’s step-by-step visual guide of tips and how to employ them.

Sample Internet Safety Rules – wikiHow’s easy reminder sheet to download.

StaySafeOnline‘s easy to use main page covers how to keep a clean machine and protect your personal information, and has sections for parents as well as mobile phones and apps.

Be Smart Online – The internet makes many everyday tasks faster and more convenient, like shopping, researching products, banking, searching for health information, and communicating on the go. Get tips for being safe and making the most of your time online.

Don’t use public or shared computers for online banking or investment transactions.

Don’t give out your account password to anyone, even someone claiming to be from your online service. Your account can be hijacked, and you can find unexpected charges on your bill.

Be careful about giving out your credit card number, phone number and home address. Never provide your Social Security number to anyone unless required by law.

Email is relatively private — but not completely. Don’t put anything into an electronic message that you wouldn’t want to see posted on a neighborhood bulletin board.

Delete junk email without even reading it. Never download an email attachment from an unknown source. Opening a file could expose your system to a virus.

Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer’s security.

Don’t “unsubscribe” on unwanted, unsolicited e-mail. That just lets the senders know that they had reached a valid email address. Don’t sign up for free offers.

SHOPPING 

Know who you’re dealing with. Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number in case you have problems.

Know what you’re buying. Read the seller’s description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Name-brand items at unusually low prices might be stolen or counterfeit.

Know what it will cost, including shipping and handling. Never send cash.

Pay by credit or charge card. If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor is investigating them.

Check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates. A Federal Trade Commission rule requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date if no specific date is promised.

PHISHING & ID THEFT

In The Structure of a Facebook Scam, we explain how those “harmless” Facebook memes aren’t harmless at all… what they’re really doing, and how. Hoaxes are demystified, step by step, in How to spot a Facebook hoax… and what you can do about it so you can stay safer online using social media.

Avoid Scams  – Scam artists use clever schemes to defraud millions of people around the globe each year. Being on guard online can help you maximize the benefits of the internet and minimize your chance of being defrauded. Learn how to recognize common scams and what you can do to avoid them.

You may receive emails that appear to be from a financial institution, bill paying service, government agency or other business that say something like:

“We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity.”

Do not reply, and do not click on the links. The messages direct you to a website that looks legitimate, but it is a trick to get you to reveal personal information and passwords. Operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.

Forward these emails to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email. Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems.

Email is not a secure method of transmitting information, so never use it to transmit financial information. Legitimate businesses should not ask you to send sensitive information by email.

Area codes can mislead. Some scammers send an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a “refund.” Because they use voice over internet protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are.

Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges.

KID SAFETY 

Protect Kids Online – Kids have lots of opportunities for socializing online, but they come with certain risks. Parents can help reduce these risks by talking to kids about making safe, responsible decisions.

Explore the Internet with your children. Keep the computer in a common area of the home, such as a living room or family room, where adults can easily monitor online activity.

Teach your children the meaning of privacy and personal – or family – information. Encourage them to post messages only with your permission and supervision.

Show your child the difference between an advertisement and entertainment. A young child may not realize that an animated or cartoon character may be gathering market data or trying to sell something.

Consider safeguarding options like site blocking, filtering and monitoring. Know how to set parental controls and check the browser’s history files.

Discuss the importance of telling you or a trusted adult if something ever makes your child or teen feel scared, uncomfortable or confused while online.

Make sure you are aware of any other places your child may be using the Internet, such as a friend’s house or the library.

BETTER BROWSING

I posted earlier about Duck Duck Go and their terrific services to stop tracking and maintain privacy.

Panda Surf Safe is a free browser add-on that keeps you safe when you surf and shop on the Internet.

AVG Secure Search alerts you before you visit dangerous webpages to make sure your identity, personal information, and computer are protected. In addition, our integrated AVG Do Not Track brings the control over your privacy back to you.

For Browser information, tips, security, and software testing, you can see all our results here.

Secure Your Computer – The internet gives you access to countless products and services. At the same time, it can leave you open to scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Learn experts’ top tips for how to protect your information and your computer while online.

FREE SECURITY CHECK UPS – Many computer security vendors offer free computer security checks for your computer. Check your computer for known viruses, spyware, and more and discover if your computer is vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Additional Sources: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team; Federal Trade Commission, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, OnGuardOnline, StaySafeOnline, Global Computer Advisory.

19 thoughts on “Safer on the Internet

  1. We live in uncertain and frightening times so this is a terrific guide for me. I'll share this with my husband when he gets home. Thanks!
    Clare, bookmarking.

  2. I'm on FB (I FB'd this btw) and didn't even realize those things were even scams. Thanks Max & Gen. 🙂

  3. Don't “unsubscribe” on unwanted, unsolicited e-mail. That just lets the senders know that they had reached a valid email address. Don't sign up for free offers.

    guilty. will stop.

  4. “Area codes can mislead. Some scammers send an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a “refund.” Because they use voice over internet protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are.”

    Most people have no clue about this. Or IP addresses. (No comment.)

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