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Internet safety tips

July 24, 2010 at 2:24 a.m.


By Chris Guerra

The heat is on. With summer in full swing many people will be seeking a bit of relief from the summer heat by staying indoors and browsing the Internet. The Internet is a fun and educational place, but when used without caution it can also be full of danger. Here are some tips to protect you from scammers and predators that may be lurking around in cyberspace.

The best tool for protecting yourself on the Internet is good old fashioned common sense. If you're unfamiliar with a website you go to, use extra caution as there can be programs that will collect your personal information for criminal purposes.

Never give out your name, address, phone number, passwords, pictures or any other personal information over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.

Your banks and financial institutions will not send you a link and request that you contact them via Internet or e-mail to verify information. These e-mails are from scammers who have websites cloned to look like that of legitimate businesses. If you send them information, you could have your identity stolen. Instead, only contact your financial institutions through phone numbers or websites that were provided to you at the actual bank or in your monthly statements.

Never agree to meet someone face-to-face who you have met over the Internet alone. Always insist that an adult you know and trust be present and meet only in a place that is public and familiar to you. Internet predators do not discriminate as to who they target; they will take any victim who is willing - even adults.

Never respond to messages from unfamiliar people. This can encourage them to keep contacting you and it verifies they have found an active e-mail account.

Use caution when utilizing geo-tagging or geo-location features within social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or Four-square. These features can often inadvertently advise to would be burglars that your home is vacant. Many burglaries are committed by "friends" or acquaintances who have been to your home and know what property you own.

For more information, contact Police Officer Chris Guerra, Crime Prevention Unit, 361-485-3808.

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