Cyber Safety, Part 1

For the next two weeks, we’ll be talking about cyber safety. Today’s post discusses three of the most common forms of theft and fraud that you’ll find online, and next week will be all about cyber bullying.


Phishing is a common trick used by identity thieves to gain your personal information. This crime involves sending email or creating sites that appear to be from a legitimate company and asking you to confirm personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords, birth dates, or addresses. PayPal and eBay are two of the most common targets for phishing scams. Before adding any personal information, contact the supposed site directly to see if they have been trying to contact you. Most reputable sites will not contact you in this way.

Identity Theft

When they think of Internet safety, adults most often consider identity theft a top priority. Identity thieves can use the information they find online to drain your bank account and ruin your credit rating. In some cases, the damage caused by identity theft may even harm your future employment prospects, especially if you work in an industry that regularly does credit checks for all job applicants. Should you find yourself to be a victim of Identity theft, visit for easy instructions on how to report the crime and form a recovery plan.

Watch for Fraud

The global nature of the Internet has brought new life to scams. Some of the most common forms of Internet fraud include the following:

  • Online auctions site postings that feature nonexistent or falsely represented merchandise
  • Nigerian money offers promising large sums of cash in exchange for assistance with bank account transfers
  • Financial scams targeting consumers with poor credit who are tricked into paying upfront fees in hopes of receiving credit cards or personal loans
  • Phony sweepstakes offers asking for payment to claim a prize that doesn’t really exist

Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of on the Internet! Think critically about anything that sounds too good to be true.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]


One thought on “Cyber Safety, Part 1”

  1. Related to what you posted: I know people who aren’t aware of “ransomware”. My home computer was attacked 3 times in one week. Each time, it was a pop up over a sort-of realistic-looking Microsoft page. The message said they were locking my computer until I called the number given, so the virus and malware my computer was infected with wouldn’t harm their network. And it was putting access to my photos, Facebook, email etc at risk. I needed to call to have one of their IT engineers help me get rid of it or my computer would stay locked. And it was–I couldn’t do anything. I called a real MS number each time and was told what to do, then the third time they installed something that would block it next time. So far, that has worked. The real IT guy said it was good that I didn’t call that number. Their so-called engineer would get remote access, see banking and everything, then demand money. If no payment, and sometimes even if you do pay, they crash your computer. Everyone should be aware of this. This was only on my home computer.

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