Internet Safety and Identity Theft
Joselle Shea  -  2006/6/22
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
When providing personal information at a so-called "secure" site, does the little gold lock at the bottom of the screen signify the information is really secure? Also, in your opinion, what's the best "protection" software on the market? Thanks!
 
1.  b
 The padlock icon just signifies that the information being provided to a website has been encrypted and cannot be read by someone else during transit. It does not necessarily mean that the website you're communicating with is legitimate.For instance, a website may be masquerading as your bank's website and may display the padlock, but the site could belong to a bad guy. To ensure that the site is legit, click on the padlock, and then View the site's certificate. You'll need to be able to verify that the identifying information contained in the site's certificate does indeed correspond to the legitimate site.
 
2.  JShea
 Yes, the gold lock located at the bottom of the page and near the URL address bar show that a website is secure. I also recommend that instead of following links from emails or other messages to a secure website that you type in the URL yourself. This is the best way to avoid phishing and other scams. As for the best protection software, that depends on what you are looking for – antivirus software, child monitoring software, or other types. Many different websites provide reviews of these products that can help you find the best one for you. Some to check out are CNet, http://reviews.cnet.com/, Top Ten Reviews, http://www.toptenreviews.com/, and ZD Net, http://reviews-zdnet.com.com/.
 
 
How can a person remove personal information such as social security numbers, dates of birth, etc. from the public records such as real estate transactions, employment applications, etc. of the 70's, 80's and 90's before ID Theft became a promlem?
 
1.  JShea
 It can be hard to remove all personal information from the public record, and sometimes even impossible. You can start by requesting a copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. Then you can contact the agencies that you know may have your personal information to inquire about their policies regarding this data and requesting that yours is removed from their records.
 
 
What internet safety policies are recommended for children attending community technology centers accross the nation, using computers for leisure time activities there?
 
1.  JShea
 It’s important for children to follow the basic Internet safety rules whenever they are online – don’t give out personal identifying information or post it anywhere online, don’t meet anyone that you met online, don’t open emails or answer messages from someone you don’t know, and do talk to an adult if something makes you feel uncomfortable. When using shared computers in a community technology center it is also important to remind children to sign out of email and instant message accounts, personal profiles and webpages, and any other password protected space so that other people can’t access them. It is also a good for community technology centers to set clear rules on what they will and won’t allow kids to do online and to post these rules so that they are visible from every computer. Decide if children are allowed to download anything to the computers, if there are any websites or types of websites that are forbidden, and if you would like to restrict any other online behaviors.
 
 
Working for a local police department in Maryland, where would you refer someone that just contacted you and said that they were a victim of identity theft?
 
1.  Debbie Tall
 Thank you for that referral of www.consumer.gov/idtheft/law_help.htm. We have used that and do have their materials. I was just seeing if there were any other recommendations.
 
2.  JShea
 Law enforcement officers should complete a police report, even if it is only an incident report. The FTC needs this information in order for the victim to complete a fraud affidavit. There is great information on how law enforcement can help victims and further investigation identity theft crimes at the Federal Trade Commission’s website, http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/law_help.htm.
 
 
What percentage of fraudulent emails (Nigerian, phishing attempts, etc.) are domestic versus overseas-based, and can you please share your sources of information? Is the problem just getting worse instead of better? What are the indicators? Lastly, is there a certain threshhold that has to be met in terms of monetary losses sustained by a victim before the federal authorities will start an investigation? Thank you.
 
1.  JShea
 Nigeria is practically synonymous with email scams, but actually more phishing websites are hosted in the United States than in any other country. A full report, released by the Anti Phishing Working Group in May 2006, is available at http://www.antiphishing.org/reports/apwg_report_May2006.pdf. For more information on phishing and indicators, you can access online the Internet Crime Complaint Center 2005 Internet Crime Report (prepared by the National White Collar Crime Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation).
 
 
ECHO, Exploited Children's Help Organization based in Louisville, KY delivers sexual abuse prevention programs to K-8 grades. The videos we currently use are: "What ta Do", and "Yes You Can Say No". School counselors are increasingly concerned about children experimenting with MySpace.com and others. We need a video program dealing with Internet Safety for this age group and up through High School. Do you have recommendations?
 
1.  Michael
 Try isafe.org. Our school district (www.holliston.k12.ma.us) had an Internet Safety Week this past spring - and posted the handouts and supplemental information on their website. The Internet Safety Week was a collaboration between the school, police, fire department and parents groups.
 
2.  JShea
 The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a great program called Net Smartz that helps teach kids and teens about this issue and has some materials that specifically focus on social networking websites. You can find out more about it at http://www.netsmartz.org/index.htm. Wired Safety is another organization that provides information and resources on Internet safety, including social networking sites. (In fact, I spoke a Wired Safety summit on increasing safety with social networking sites just yesterday.) You can visit www.wiredsafety.org for more information.
 
 
In conjunction with the Buffalo Police Department's Citizen Advisory Group-to the Police Commissioner (CAG), we host an annual Youth Police Academy for 7th and 8th graders and Scouts. The one day academies(now in its 12th year)offer mini classes on topics ranging from gang/graffiti avoidance, cyber crime to problem solving. However, the issue of bullying on the net always arises. Any suggestions on a presentation about the problem of bullying (particularly involving girl bullies) would be very helpful. Thanks much, Michele Graves, Coordinator for the CAG.
 
1.  Jamie
 I am a Deputy in Georgia who teaches DARE/SAFE in the elementary program, cyber bullying is a concern here too, we found a really great program called ISAFE it is an internet safety program, and they have different programs for different age levels, you can get certified to teach the program by just taking a few classes on-line and the materials are free to law enforcement, I don't have the address with me right now but if you google ISAFE you'll find it.
 
2.  JShea
 Bullying online is a growing problem, and has the same effects on victims as face-to-face bullying. Youth need to recognize cyberbullying and resist those behaviors. One strategy is to teach young people about how to be responsible Internet users. NCPC has just posted information on our website on teaching youth about cyberethics. You can access this information here: http://www.ncpc.org/programs/tcc/. We are also working on public service advertising on cyberbullying and companion information for teens and parents. We anticipate releasing this information in the fall, so be sure to check back to access free materials on that topic. (www.ncpc.org) You can also find much information about bullying through HRSA’s Stop Bullying Now! campaign (www.stopbullyingnow.org). They have resources for youth and adults.
 
3.  Michael
 The Middlesex County District Attorney's Office in MA has an excellent educational segment on bullying, available in both VHS and DVD formats which was released last fall. Materials can be ordered from www.projectalliance.org
 
 
What impact has there been regarding the impact of identity theft on college campuses? How has campus law enforcement been reacting to the problem? Thank you
 
1.  JShea
 Students on college campuses face risks related to identity theft—according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics bulletin on identity theft (published April 2006), 18–24 year-olds have the highest percentage of identity theft victimization. They are approached by credit card companies and they get their first personal credit cards, they may not keep their dorm rooms locked securely, and they may not have received any information on identity theft or protecting their personal information. Campus law enforcement can be proactive and provide students with information on protecting their identities.
 
 
Information that goes into "cyberspace" seems unprotected and at-risk, no matter what the site says. True? How then to protect sensitive information with, say, financial institutions, etc. And is there a way to end receipt of advertisements through snail mail that are preprinted with name, address and other important data such as account numbers? Thanks.
 
1.  Susan Edwards
 Regarding the receipt of preprinted ads, etc -- seems that shredding is a last resort. How do we stop unsolicited mailings (that we don't even know are coming) in the first place? Thanks.
 
2.  JShea
 No information on the Internet is 100% secure, however there are ways you can protect your information. Sites such as financial institutions, stores, etc. do take steps to ensure that sensitive information is sent securely through cyberspace. Sites that are secure generally have an icon of a gold lock on the URL address bar and at the bottom of the browser window. You can also contact those financial institutions to find out specifically how they secure your information. Advertisements, financial statements, and other documents with your name, address, or account information printed should be shredded before being thrown away. This will protect from ID thieves who go through garbage trying to steal personal information.
 
 
I am familiar with the problems of children posting on sites such as myspace and facebook, just to name a few, but are there any other sites that you are aware of, where problems are arising from children posting too much information about themselves online? Can you recommend any training specifically geared towards law enforcement in investigating identity theft?
 
1.  JShea
 MySpace and Facebook are social networking sites; others are Xanga, Bebo, and Tagged, but there are other websites (blogging websites and photo-, video- and music-sharing sites) where children can run into similar problems. Social networking sites can be used safety, but we need to teach our youth how to do so. Parents and other adults should know what sites their children use and what information they have in their profiles. Young people shouldn’t post personal identifying information, such as their address, cell phone number, or what school they go to. Adults should also make sure children know how to respond to unknown individuals who approach them in chat rooms or through social networking sites—if they don’t know who someone is, they can stop communications with that person. We also need to teach young people to avoid posting personal identification information of their friends and information they wouldn’t want a others (like parents, teachers, or their whole school) to see. Also, adults can talk with their children about what types of protections they would like social networking sites to offer and communicate those desires to the sites; they will use the input as they work to increase safety.
 
 
Hi Joselle! WiredSafety.org loves working with you and the others at NCPC. How can groups collaborate better to help keep kids safer online? Parry Aftab, Exec Director, WiredSafety.org
 
1.  JShea
 Thanks for your question, Parry. Parents, youth, schools, law enforcement officers, social networking sites and others can successfully collaborate to increase online safety. Social networking sites often have law enforcement liaisons; police departments can form relationships with these individuals, letting them know what types of problems law enforcement officers are seeing. Police departments, schools, parents, and students can work together to form policies and procedures for online safety. If a student is cyberbullied or harassed online, what will be the role of police? Of the school? What can parents and students do? How will students be educated on using the Internet safely? Youth and parents should also communicate with social networking sites, instant messenger providers, etc. about what safety measures they would like to see online. By collaborating and building relationships, we can help children be safer online and respond quickly when problems arise.
 
 
I think merchants are making ID theft easier by not asking for passwords or ID's when using bank cards. Do you know of any requirements for them to check ID's?
 
1.  JShea
 Requirements to check ID’s are created by the businesses themselves; some do not require ID checks if the back of the card is signed. You can address this by writing “see ID” on the back of your credit and bank cards. Also, if a store clerk does not check your ID, you can ask the store manager what the store’s policy is. You can also communicate to the store’s central office that you support policies that require ID checks.
 
 
What actions can be taken, or what tools can one use to prevent kids from having access to unsafe sites while using the internet? Just how eaisy is it for someone to steal someone's identity over the internet?
 
1.  JShea
 Child monitoring software is available to block access to unsafe sites. (Many different websites provide reviews of these products that can help you find the best one for you. Some to check out are CNet, http://reviews.cnet.com/, Top Ten Reviews, http://www.toptenreviews.com/, and ZD Net, http://reviews-zdnet.com.com/.) Adults should also talk with children and youth about what websites the young people visit, what they do online, who they communicate with, etc. Visit sites your children frequent and discuss the content of the sites with your children. Also, parents should place home computers in more public areas (such as the kitchen or family room) as opposed to putting them in children’s bedrooms so that parents can key an eye on what sites children are visiting.
 
 
How easy is it for children to order products on line and how is the age of the person verified--example, medication, alcohol?
 
1.  JShea
 It is possible for juveniles to purchase medication illegally on the Internet by using a parent’s credit card. Parents need to closely monitor their credit card statements so they can spot questionable charges. Parents should also monitor the sites their children visit online and have clear guidelines regarding whether their children can purchase any items online. Purchasing medication online should be done carefully—there are many illegal pharmaceutical companies selling substances that may have been tampered with, but many of these companies have professional-looking websites that look legitimate. If you order medication online, use a pharmacy you know or one that has a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites seal of approval from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (www.nabpnet).
 
 
After the ID Theft Victim realizes that the crime occurred, how can crime victim advocates help the Victim? Can the Advocate assist in restoring the Victim's credit history? Are there sample forms, letters, and or procedural outlines that the Victim Advocate can follow? Informational brochures? If yes, how do we access these documents or materials on the internet? Thank you, Mark
 
1.  Linda Foley
 The Identity Theft Resource Center is a nonprofit that also specializes in child id theft cases. You can visit our website at www.idtheftcenter.org or refer cases to us.
 
2.  JShea
 If an individual believes they are a victim of identity theft, they should take the following steps to minimize the damage done: (1) contact the fraud departments of any of the three major credit bureaus (they are then required to contact the other two bureaus so that fraud alerts can be placed); (2) close existing accounts that may have been compromised; (3) file a police report; and (4) file a complaint with the FTC at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. Victim advocates can support victims as they take these steps. For more information on procedures victim advocates can follow, I recommend contacting the National Center for Victims of Crime (www.ncvc.org). They provide a variety of services to victim advocates and other victim service providers.
 
 
Are teens just as likely as adults to become victims of Identity Theft on-line?
 
1.  JShea
 The Bureau of Justice Statistics looked at identity theft among people aged 18 and older. Individuals 18–24 years old had the highest rate of identity theft (individuals 65 and older had the lowest rate). The study did not look at identity theft among those under 18, and did not look at whether the theft occurred through online or off-line activities. Teens, however, are vulnerable to identity theft because they are often uneducated about the problem and how to protect themselves. Also, because teens do not receive monthly financial statements (that can help victims become aware of their ID theft), the problem may go undetected for a long period of time. The problem may not be discovered until the teen applies for a drivers license, or for their first job or credit card. Parents should be sure to educate their children about protecting their personal information, both online and off-line.
 
2.  CDUQUE
 Teens are very susceptible to being scammed online. Though they are more tech savvy, they lack "life experience" to realize they're being scammed.
 
 
Store was robbed. Computer 'tower' was stolen. This was mom and pop store. All employee payroll records, including SSNs were in it. What should employees begin to do to protect themselves from possible ID theft??
 
1.  JShea
 First of all, I am sorry to hear that this happened to your store. Even though the tower was stolen, there are things you can do to to minimize the damage: (1) contact the fraud departments of any of the three major credit bureaus (they are then required to contact the other two bureaus so that fraud alerts can be placed); (2) close existing accounts that may have been compromised; (3) file a police report; and (4) file a complaint with the FTC at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. Also, the employees have been victimized by the theft to their store, and they may be feeling angry, afraid, or helpless. If anyone needs help in dealing with the negative impact of this theft, they can contact the National Center for Victims of Crime hotline at 1-800-FYI-CALL.
 
 
To prevent or minimize lost or stolen checks from being forged, is there a central check verification company or other business that you can report your checking account and routing numbers to so that they won't be cashed?
 
1.  JShea
 None that we know of. Once a person discovers checks lost or stolen they should immediately notify the bank to close the account. In instances where only one check is missing, a stop payment can be placed on that check. As a matter of practice, it is better to list as little printed information on checks as possible so that if they are stolen, the thief will have to work harder to also steal an identity. For example, do not have your home phone number printed on checks, and list only your first and middle initials instead of full names.
 
 
I am an educator looking for interactive curriculum for middle school students, related to internet safety. It would be a benefit if the program addressed websites such as myspace and other popular sites, which create situations in which students are at risk for disclosing information to strangers.
 
1.  cstonebraker
 You may want to look at NetSmartz.org. NetSmartz is a partnership between the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Their website has real life videos segments for middle school and high schoolage kids which seem to get their attention.
 
2.  JShea
 Please see the answer to the previous question about educational resources. The FTC also has a facts guide on social networking for teens and tweens.
 
 
Are there any good internet safety programs that are being taught to school age children? Where would I be able to get these materials?
 
1.  JShea
 Yes, there are several Internet safety programs. NCPC has educational materials for elementary children and teachers on its website, www.mcgruff.org. You can also access information on teaching teens about cybersafety at our website, http://www.ncpc.org/programs/tcc/index.php. NetSmartz Workshop features online educational materials, and I-Safe America has a classroom based curriculum. I Keep Safe is another organization with materials for young children, and Wired Safety has resources aimed at teens and tweens.
 
 
Do you think that the new initiatives being implemented by MySpace (requiring entry of the minor MySpace user's last name or email adress for verification, before allowing adults to access their profile / add them as friends) will be effective in enhancing minors protection on that specific site from online predators?
 
1.  JShea
 This is a step in the right direction, however it will not end all offenses. Adults who lie about their age and say they are under 18 would avoid this restriction. MySpace has implemented another new policy that allows anyone to make their profile private. This is also a step to enhancing safety online, and parents should talk to their children about creating private profiles.
 
 
What do you think of online password vaults that claim to manage and access all your userId, passwords, PIN codes and other secrets from any Internet access point.
 
1.  JShea
 Password vaults are software packages that store all of a person’s passwords - for email and bank accounts, computers, PIN numbers, and others - in one secure location. Some people find it easier to store all of their passwords in this type of vault and only remember the one password needed to enter their vault, while others find it very frightening to know that all of their passwords can be found in one central location. If you decide to use a password vault, I recommend that you do extensive research on the company you choose before you enter any personal information to make sure that your information is secure and that the company has not experienced any problems in the past.
 
 
If we wanted to set-up an Internet task force in our community, whom should we recruit to participate? What do other task forces set-up look like?
 
1.  cstonebraker
 I suggest that you take a look at the following website http://www.icactraining.org/default.htmwhich has excellent information for law enforcement officers. I work as the education specialist for Utah's ICAC task force. NetSmartz.org is another invaluable resource.
 
2.  JShea
 Your task force should foster collaboration among many individuals and community groups. Law enforcement officers, school officials, library officials, staff from community youth centers, parents, and youth should be represented on the task force. Involving all of these individuals will create buy-in, build positive relationships that can help the group form prevention policies and intervene effectively in any problems. While many might not think to include youth on the task force, the youth participating can help educate their peers and identify problems. Be sure your task force has a clear goal and that all members understand their roles and how they can contribute to the work of the task force.
 
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