By: Meghan Mathias

An internet scam is a type of deception that uses the internet as a vehicle to commit numerous subcategories of crime. It can seem scary, navigating an increasingly cyber world that seems to have deceit waiting around every corner, especially now that your kids are going online. However, every internet scam more or less follows a specific formula or plan and because of this, there are helpful tips and tricks on how to avoid them.

Common Types of Internet Scams

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2020 Internet Crime Report, the top 3 internet scams/crimes reported in 2020 were phishing, non-payment/non-delivery, and extortion.

Phishing/spoofing/credit card fraud—Involves the usage of fake emails, text messages, websites, etc. to commit either identity theft or to steal credit/debit card information. Think of those emails advertising a too good to be true vacation.

Malware—This is when those scary viruses come in. Malware is software designed to disable computers and computer systems, sometimes hacking into and accessing stored personal information along the way.

Internet auction—This type of scam happens when items for sale on the internet are largely misrepresented or when merchandise bought online does not even get delivered to the buyer at all.

How do I Keep My Child Safe from these Types of Scams?

Educate yourself—The number one tip for all parents to keep their children safe from online scams is to educate themselves on the types of scams that are out there, whether it be from the list above or those that are becoming more popular with older age groups on social media.

Educate your kids—Explain to your kids why keeping their usernames and passwords secret and protected is important. Give them guidelines on what to do if they come across inappropriate material or material that seems false online. This is when some “family internet rules” could be helpful, such as no downloading anything before getting a parent to approve it first or no clicking on any messages or pop-ups from strangers without telling a parent first.

Anti-virus and anti-spyware software—Investing in software specifically designed to keep your internet browsing safe may be worth the money when considering the alternative, which is a world of scams that are always adapting. The FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report even received 28,500 complaints related to COVID-19 scams in 2020. It is important to keep an eye on how internet scams are changing. A foolproof way to buy anti-virus software you can trust is to go to any store that has a technology section and ask an employee what they recommend.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever clicked on a pop-up while on the internet that led you to a website you felt you shouldn’t be on?
  2. If you have ever played games with people online, have you ever had someone message you something inappropriate or ask you for personal information?
  3. What are some steps you can take when you click something you shouldn’t have or feel you are seeing something you shouldn’t be online?
  4. Give a few examples of tell-tale signs something online is false or a scam. Is it always that easy to tell?


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