Be Cautious When Connecting Online
Safer Internet Day, held annually in February, raises awareness of online safety and dangers. Though the internet offers many benefits, it also creates opportunities for criminals to reach unsuspecting victims in new ways, using tricks which make crimes difficult to recognize. Education can help prevent internet scams and crimes. Pasco Sheriff’s Office is sharing tips to help you stay safe when connecting online.
Protecting your personal information is one of the most effective ways to avoid online scams. Start by creating strong and unique passwords. Enable multi-factor authentication, if available, for extra protection. Encrypting your home Wi-Fi networks and adding a guest network adds extra security to hide your information from potential hackers. Conduct purchases from web addresses starting with “HTTPS” to ensure they’re secure. Shut down your computer when not in use, to ensure no one can gain unauthorized access to it.
Be cautious of what you share when connecting online. Set all social media accounts to private, disable location sharing and limit what you share. Delete any old accounts you no longer use. Turn off geolocation to protect your location. Delay posting about travel plans until after returning home. Report fake accounts and inappropriate posts directly on the platform. When using public Wi-Fi, be cautious about logging into accounts with sensitive information, such as online banking sites.
Complete all available updates for your computers, operating systems and browsers. Use antivirus programs to detect malicious software and prevent damage to files or devices. Never open emails or attachments from someone you don’t know or aren’t expecting, and be especially cautious of forwarded attachments. Do not click on online advertisements, as these can be scams to gather your personal information. Recognize signs of email scams, such as a generic greeting, a notice that your account is on hold due to a billing problem or an invitation to click a link to update information. Legitimate companies will not email or text a link requesting payment information or demand specific payment forms, such as gift cards.
Parents and guardians can also help protect children from online dangers. Have open conversations frequently about responsible and respectful online behavior. Discuss how things posted online never truly disappear, as posts can be screen-shotted and manipulated. Encourage appropriate screen names, strong passwords and reporting inappropriate behavior online.
As the internet continues to create new opportunities, digital crimes will also continue to grow. Practicing internet safety can minimize risks while connecting online. If you believe you are a victim of a scam or fraud, contact law enforcement immediately. Reporting malicious online activity can help keep loved ones a little bit safer when online. This Safer Internet Day, follow these safety practices to stay safe when connecting online.