Children and teens spend a lot of time online. In addition to useful information for schoolwork, chats with friends and exciting games, they can also come across dangerous scams. We present the five most common scams used on the Internet and show you how to protect your children.
The most common scam is phishing. Scammers "fish" for personal data, such as account numbers or passwords, which they then abuse. To do this, they send e-mails that appear to come from reputable websites or companies. Mostly they tell you that your login or account information has expired or is no longer secure and encourage you to change it at the attached link. In reality, however, the link leads to a fake website, and if you enter your login information, it is transmitted to the scammers. In this way, they can gain access to, for example, personal banking data, empty your account or make online purchases.
Show your child how to recognize a phishing e-mail: they are often full of spelling errors, do not address the recipient personally, and contain links that are too long. Also, banks and other reputable companies never ask their customers for personal information via e-mail. If you are not sure, it is better to ask the company directly.
2. Fraudulent online stores
Expensive brands and limited edition items have great appeal, especially to young people. Scammers know this and spread fake ads for luxury bargains on social media and on the Internet. By clicking on the link, you are redirected to a fake online store. At first glance, this looks deceptively real. However, after payment you get a fake product or nothing at all. In the worst case, the scammers use your bank details to drain your account.
Teach your child to check the quality seal of online stores, a contact address and spelling. Also, before ordering, you should research other customers' experiences with the store. If the merchant insists on prepayment and there are no other payment options, be cautious.
3. The fake prince
Ever heard of the Nigerian prince? For many, it is synonymous with a proven scam. You receive an e-mail from a wealthy stranger who urgently needs help securing large sums of money. To do this, he needs to transfer his money to a foreign account. The person who makes his account available receives a million-dollar sum as a reward. First, however, he must make a payment to the stranger to test whether the transfer works. And lo and behold, the money is already gone.
Open your child's eyes: if something is too good to be true ... it is not. This is especially true on the Internet. If he receives such an offer by e-mail, he should not respond under any circumstances but delete the message immediately.
4. Love scam and sextortion
Love makes one blind. This is the saying that scammers rely on in dating apps and chatrooms, but also on social media. They create a fake profile with stolen photos and, with this false identity, flirt with their victims. Contact is made only via the Internet, personal meetings are planned but constantly postponed. Once an intense emotional bond is established, the scammers strike: they ask for a money transfer, for example, for an emergency. Just as often, they ask for erotic photos and videos, which the scammers then use to blackmail the victim for money.
Explain to your child that on the Internet you can never be sure who is on the other end. This is why you should be especially cautious when contacting strangers. Agree with your child that he should reveal as little information about himself online as possible and post only pictures of himself that he wants to show to the whole world.
5. Manipulated links in social media
"You absolutely must see this, too cool!" People who receive a link with shocking headlines from their friends often click on it. However, a friend may not necessarily be behind it. It may also be scammers at work who have gained access to the Facebook account with the same trick they are going to use: the link leads to a manipulated website that allows the scammers to read the login information. With ease, they access the phone number, e-mail address, and perhaps even credit card information, after which they send the manipulated link to their entire list of friends.
Sensitize your child not to intuitively click on links that are sent to him or her. If something seems strange, it is best to ask the friend what it is first.