Computer Crime Problems Research Center

Detective Chris Duque

Cyber Crime Tips

Don't Talk to Strangers

“Don’t talk to strangers!” How often have we heard this from our parents? And how often have we told this to our children? But do we/they listen and heed these warnings? Noooooo!

Maybe in the “real” world we do, but on the Internet we throw caution to the wind and sometimes with dire results. How quickly we provide personal and/or financial information while surfing the web, especially while browsing for sales, bargains, and deals. We spend hours chatting online in rooms populated with strangers whose only identity is a screen name, like “HOT2TROT” or “BOYTOY808”. Our monitors are littered with IM windows popping up with enticements and invitations to partake in more than just idle chatter (which we easily succumb to).

We think we’re safe. We think that no physical harm can come to us. We think that we can be anonymous and no one knows who we really are. Well, explain how children can be assaulted in their own home by a so-called “buddy” they had met online a few nights prior. Or how businessmen can be conned out of large sums of money by relying on information obtained from investment forums and bulletin boards. Or how people searching for their “special someone” find themselves trapped in a relationship that is a living nightmare of physical and emotional abuse.

So what can we do to protect our loved ones and ourselves while ensuring our safety online?

Some Recommendations

When asked for personal or financial information, do not readily provide it. Determine what is really necessary to provide. Always figure out the minimal amount of information you must provide, and decide if what you are receiving is worth more than what you are giving.

Monitor and supervise your children’s online activity by physically being there with them and watching what’s on the monitor. At the very least, make sporadic checks while they’re online. Check to see if there is only one browser window open. Kids often times have multiple screens disguising their Internet activity.

Log ALL chat room dialogue and IMs (Instant Messages) or ICQ (I seek you) messages, especially for children, even if you’re continuously with them while they’re online.

Resist the temptation of using screen names that are suggestive and/or refers to age, sex, or location. This also applies to creating an online “profile”. Ask yourself if you really need to have one.

Immediately contact law enforcement authorities if your child is missing and/or is a runaway, especially if you feel that it may be connected to their Internet activity. Call 9-1-1.

If you or your children decide to meet an Internet “buddy” face-to-face, stop, think, and ask “Why?” and “What’s the worst that can happen?” If you or your children still decide to meet the “buddy”, never invite the person to your home, place of work, or school. Agree to a public place that has lots of people, such as a shopping mall or a food court. Never go to the meeting alone, even after several meetings. Let another person know about the meeting. Carry a cellular phone, in case of emergency.


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