The Internet offers endless opportunities for individuals to gain valuable information -- but also is a potentially dangerous avenue through which unscrupulous individuals can take advantage of others. Here are a few important tips from the Federal Trade Commission. Dozens of other articles and tips from the FTC are available through their web site: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/privacy-identity-online-security
- Keep private information private.
Smart surfers don't disclose personal information unless they know who's collecting it, why, and how it's going to be used. And they never disclose their password.
- Get to know online merchants.
Be cautious of a company that claims to have a secret connection overseas or doesn't allow e-mail replies.
- Question out-of-this-world claims.
Claims like "you can earn over $50,000 a month" or "lose weight without dieting" suggest a scam. Be wary of any company that makes a product or performance claim that's unlikely, or just plain hard to believe.
- Make sure it's secure.
If you buy something on the Internet and need to give your credit card number, verify the online security or encryption before you do business.
- Know who's who.
Online, anyone can be anyone, anywhere. Because it's easy to fake e-mail addresses, be mindful of who you're listening to or talking with before you give out personal information.
- Watch the .exe files.
Secret programs may exist in files you download especially .exe files. These files could ruin your hard drive, hijack your modem, or collect information about you without your knowledge. Install a virus protection program before you go online.
- Filter for fun.
Inexpensive "filtering" software programs help make sure your family members are protected from sites that may not be age- or interest-appropriate.