Dear CDA Families,
I hope your summer is off to a great start. Now that most children are out of school for summer break, many are home with a lot of time on their hands. Whether we like it or not, there is a whole new landscape in our relationship with technology. The internet, for example, is a great resource, providing us access to information, educational resources, entertainment, and different ways to socialize with others. However, this platform can also be a gateway for online predators, scammers, cyberbullying, and hackers.
In an effort to ensure our technology use is positive and purposeful, we included some information to help protect you and your family from being victimized through the different technology platforms, such as phone calls, email, and online use (including ads, hyperlinks, and social media).
Below are some tips that can help you recognize a scam:
1. A Feeling of Doubt or Distrust
- Avoid opening any email attachments or links from senders that you don’t recognize.
- Be careful of emails (or phone calls!) requesting account information or verifying an account.
- Businesses should never call you or email you directly to ask for your security credentials. Always verify that requests for information come from a legitimate source. And when in doubt, put a website’s domain into a browser yourself: Since most legitimate businesses use encryption known as Secure Socket Layer (SSL), “certificate errors” can be a warning sign that the website isn’t valid.
- If it’s coming from someone you don’t know, can you verify if it is on behalf of an institution or an organization that you know well? For example, your bank. If so, the best thing to do is call them back directly to verify the information you are receiving or any requests for information.
2. Directing me to “Click out”
Clicking on links, attachments, and ads can lead to phishing sites or immediate malware downloads. One way to see where a link may take you is to hover your mouse over any hyperlinks: Your email software should often allow you to preview the URL associated with the hyperlink. Is the hyperlink a site that you recognize, or one that resembles another website but is purposely misspelled? If it resembles another website, you should flag the email as spam and delete it.
3. A Sense of Urgency
Scammers will often try to instill a sense of urgency so that the victim doesn’t have enough time to think things through. Watch out for timeframes that may seem like you need to “act fast.”
Keeping children safe online:
Just as you teach your children to wear safety gear to prevent accidents and injuries, it is important that you teach them about online safety. Children may be especially at risk for scams since so much has shifted online. Below are some tips to help keep children safe online:
1. Don’t share personal information
Hackers will use the smallest details to steal your personal information, including your passwords, accounts, and identity. Websites will sometimes ask to input private information, such as name, age, birthday, address, and phone number. Make sure that your child understands the importance of keeping information private and knows to check in with you to verify the safety of the website.
2. Sharing online
Before your child shares a post, picture, or video online, make sure they understand that the internet is not private. As a result, once the information is shared, they cannot control how others will use it, and it can never be permanently deleted.
3. Friends and Family
Just as most of us teach our children not to talk to strangers, the same should apply for the cyber world. Predators and stalkers can easily create fake profiles to hide their identities. As a result, instruct your children to only connect with friends and family that they actually know in real life. Also, make sure to set and check privacy setting regularly to ensure that strangers can’t see profiles.
Teach your children to create long and complex passwords to protect their accounts. It can be helpful to think of passwords as paraphrases mixed in with symbols and numbers, for example, “Johnny was born on April 1, 2023,” “JWB:AprilFools2023.” Remind your kids to never share their passwords with anyone except their parents or a trusted adult.
5. Take an interest in your child’s online world
Talk to your child about their regular online activities and be familiar with their favorite websites and apps.
As parents and providers, it is highly recommended that you set time limits, use parental controls/privacy settings on devices, and have your children stay in open areas of the home. If you believe that you or someone in your family has been victimized by a scam, contact law enforcement immediately.
We hope that these tips and resources will help you and your family stay safe online.
IRS-Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts
Learn more about identifying the signs of a scam. Click here to learn more.
Federal Trade Commission
Learn about the latest scams, and get advice to help you avoid, report, and recover from them. Click here to learn more.
San Diego County District Attorney
Protecting children online. Click here to learn more.
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