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3 Ways to Teach Your Kids to be Safe Online with National Consumer Protection Week

by on March 6, 2012

Continuing our posts for National Consumer Protection Week, we’re giving you 5 ways to teach your kids how to protect themselves from fraud, scams, and identity theft. Teaching your kids early how to keep their personal information safe is essential given today’s market. Armed with the right information from you, your kids can avoid the hassle and distress caused by consumer fraud and identity theft once they start to get out in the world on their own.

#1 Online account protection

Most conversations you have with your kids about getting online are about things like cyber-bullying, but talking to your kids about protecting their online accounts is just as important. Kids are notorious for hacking each others’ accounts, so it’s important your kids understand why login information and passwords are so important, because they ensure no one else can access their accounts. Make sure to teach them how to create a strong password using the following tips:

  • Don’t use basic personal information that people could know
  • Always use a combination of letters and numbers
  • Use capital letters and special characters to make your password even more unique
  • Don’t use the same password on everything

For little ones you can even make a game of writing down a few passwords—some weak, some strong—and having your kids rank them in order of password strength. Make sure to finish off the conversation with a reminder to never share login information or passwords with anyone for any reason.

#2 Safe online shopping

More and more consumers are shopping online, including kids. It’s important to make sure your kids understand the difference between a secure online shopping site and a website that’s a scam to get your credit card information. Teach your kids to make sure they only enter credit card information on secure websites. They should look for a green URL web address bar at the top of their browser with an address that begins with “https://” (like what you see when you enter your PowerWallet). If the web address bar is still white or they don’t see the “s” on “http://” the website is not secure and they should not enter any bank account or credit card account information. Remember to show them the difference with a few examples online.

#3 Email phishing scams

Phishing is when scammers send fake emails meant to get your personal information. You get an email that may even look like it’s from a legitimate source, but it’s really a scam artist trying to get your personal information. In some cases, even just opening a fraudulent email can infect your computer with spyware. Here are some tips to help you teach your kids not to get caught by bad phishing schemes:

  • Teach your kids to only open mail from people they know
  • Permanently delete anything without opening it if they don’t know who it’s from
  • Never send personal information and/or account information in an email
  • Don’t be pulled in by tempting email subject lines—words like “winner” and “free” are almost sure signs of scams
  • Don’t open anything from a company you don’t know—even if the company name looks professional and legitimate
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