Safety and Protection

How to Teach Your Family to Avoid Online Scams

Erin Palmer

May 10, 2017

avoiding online scams

From toddlers to grannies, almost everyone uses technology these days. While it’s wonderful to be able to FaceTime birthday wishes to a nephew that lives on the other side of the country, technology also increases the chance of being scammed.

Online scams range from merely annoying to seriously dangerous. Not only do you need to know what to look out for, but you should also make sure that your family members know what to look for as well.

Keep in mind that fraudsters know how to target different age ranges, so their scams are designed to appeal to specific people. Make sure that your kids, spouse or senior relatives all know how to avoid becoming a victim of online scams.

Simple Tips for the Whole Family

Start with the very basics. Everyone in your family should use best practices when it comes to online safety. This includes:

  • Create strong passwords with a combination of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters
  • Never reuse the same password
  • Don’t use easy to guess personal information as a password

You should also take time to make sure that every family member is protected with security software, preferably set up so that it updates automatically. If automatic updates are not possible, let your family know about the importance of keeping the software updated to protect against the newest threats.

How to Help Kids Avoid Online Scams

Kids today are digital natives, so they become comfortable with technology pretty early. Since they will grow up using technology, chances are they’ll be exposed to a scam sooner or later. That’s why it is crucial to teach kids how to recognize scams.

When your kids are little, you will probably be with them when they’re online. Take time to talk to them about keeping to trusted websites and never giving out their personal information online.

Also teach your kids to beware of free downloads or offers that seem too good to be true. Free games, wallpapers or ringtones could potentially include malware. Make sure your kids know to only download things from trusted websites and apps that have been checked with security software.

Another thing that kids should know is to be careful with sharing files with their friends. Kids can easily share games or music with their friends online. Since kids trust their friends, they are more likely to accept these files without thinking twice. However, their friends could unknowingly send dangerous files. Even if the download is from a friend your child trusts, it should still go through the same security scan as other files to make sure it is safe.

How to Help Seniors Avoid Online Scams

Seniors are a major target for scammers. Since seniors tend to be newer to using technology, fraudsters often create scams to take advantage of this.

The first and most important thing seniors should learn is to NEVER give out their Social Security number, bank account numbers or PIN numbers. Scams might try to trick them into doing so in a number of ways.

For example, they may get an email that looks like it is from their financial institution that states their bank account is locked and they need to verify their personal information to unlock it. Or their computer could suddenly freeze with a pop-up message that claims to be from the FBI or another federal agency saying that the computer violated a law and a fine needs to be paid in order to unfreeze the computer.

Suncoast members, let us know if you’ve been a target or are concerned you may have been a victim of one of these scams! Email and we’ll help.

There are a ton of examples of possible scams, but the lessons boil down to the same thing. Just because it looks real, doesn’t mean it is. Never give your personal data or money to someone online. If these scams happen to you, don’t act on them.

Though many of these scams take place online, seniors should also learn about phone scams. They use a similar formula, tricking seniors into sharing personal data or sending money to scammers.

Keep Yourself Educated on the Newest Threats

Even after your family learns how to stay safe online, don’t let your guard down. New scams are created all the time, so keep up-to-date on the latest threats.

When a new scam emerges, make sure to let your loved ones know if it might impact them. This proactive approach will help keep you and your family much safer.

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