Keep your kids safe from cyber scams

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine

Although most parents might be able to recognize a cyber scam right away, some parents might be surprised to learn that online scams can be targeted toward your kids while they are surfing the web. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), internet-enabled theft, fraud and exploitation were responsible for $2.7 billion in financial losses in 2018.

“It shows that the financial toll is substantial and a victim can be anyone who uses a connected device,” IC3 Chief Donna Gregory said.

Scammers can use apps, games and social networking sites to get kids to share confidential information according to law enforcement officials. Because of the the prevalence of scams, parents should discuss online scams with their kids before they jump on the internet.

From ads that offer cheap or free items to fraudulent scholarship offers to the farming of passwords, parents should first educate themselves on what type of scams target children. Other examples to watch out for include fake Wi-Fi hotspots; social media and email messages indicating a prize won or enter a contest to win a prize; and bogus pop-ups warning of supposed viruses and malware.

Help kids spot a cyber scam:

- Errors: Be wary of messages rife with grammatical and spelling errors. Messages can also contain details about a “great deal” or contest. There are scams that contain no errors to make messages look more legitimate.

- Foreign offers: Never offer to help a “foreign prince” transfer money who is offering a cut of the money for a small wiring fee.

- Emotional manipulation: Scammers will try to prey on a person’s financial stress, loneliness or frustration to manipulate a victim emotionally. These scams might not ask for money, but will consist of asking for personal information, which can be used to steal identities.

- Talent searches: Talent search scams can will suggest a child joins a particular modeling agency or an invitation for a screen test, and then later ask for money to continue “working” with the agency.

- Scholarships: Scholarship scams can claim to be recognizing children for academic achievement, but will require paying significant upfront fees.