Assorted 'OMG!' Scams circulate on Facebook. Have you warned your kids about them?

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One of the latest Facebook scams has already duped over 60,000 users.  It shows up on a user's Wall with the message "OMG OMG OMG! ... I can't believe this actually works!  Now you really can see who viewed your profile!" and there's a link.  If you click on it, you go to a page that requests access to your Facebook information. 

If you agree to do this, your entire Friends list gets spammed with the OMG message. And you still never find out who viewed your profile.   Teens especially need to hear it over and over again: don't click.  Don't Click.  DON'T CLICK.
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

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Ironically, as I was reading about this latest scam, my friend stopped by with her tween-age daughter, Dani who isn't quite 13 -but an active Facebook user.
I turned to her and asked;

"Dani, Do you know about Facebook scams -especially ones that send you links that urge you to click on them?"

"I've heard about them but that totally would never happen to me.  I don't click on stupid stuff."

Hmm. I decided to give her a little cyber awareness test using a version of the "OMG" scams that is most commonly used by scammers.
"Dani, If you got an email from a "friend" on Facebook that said 'OMG this picture of you is all over the Internet! Check it out!' would you click on that?"

Dani didn't even stop to think. 

"Of course!  I don't want someone putting weird stuff about me on Facebook.  I would totally click on that--BUT, I don't click on stupid stuff."

My unscientific cyber quiz given to Dani simply proves that it isn't enough that we adults learn how to avoid Internet and Facebook scams--it illustrates the importance of making sure the kids around us know how, too!

With the holidays upon us and kids out of school, they will have more time to socialize on the Internet. It's key to their security, as well as your own, to provide the key info to empower them to avoid being conned.

Make sure you have "The Talk"--The Internet safety talk--with your teen or tween. It's key to helping them avoid traps set by today's tricky cyber predators.
Here's a few steps to get you started.

The FTC publishes some no-nonsense guidelines for teens and tweens to stay safe online

Included in their list of do's and don'ts are some of the most basic: DON'T share personal information, and DO keep your passwords and logins and private.

Netcetera also offers resources for parents to talk to their teens about how to enjoy the Internet responsibly. 

Their offerings include PDFs that can be shared at schools and videos on the subjects for parents as well as kids.

You might also want to consider some kind of fraud and identity theft protection. The scammers are just going to keep coming and their methods of targeting their potential victims will evolve too.
Many of our know-it-all teens/tween only think they have all the answers -just as we once did...but they still need us to watch out for them. We may enjoy sharing our lives on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, but remember --if our kids share too much information, they might just open the door to your home, and your computer. Our kids are not only precious to us -but they are precious to identity thieves as well.

It isn't just the over-texting teens and tweens who are at risk for identity theft. Bizarre as it sounds, your toddler may already have a car, boat, or mortgage in his or her name.

What else can parents do to protect their children?

1. Contact the Social Security Administration annually to request a work history for your child's social security number. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? It's worth doing. Of course, you are looking to find a blank work history.

2. If your children receive junk mail or offers for credit from lenders or credit card companies, this could be a red flag that someone is using their identity.

3. Consider engaging an identity theft protection service that specifically monitors your child's identity.

It's important we push for initiating more scam education awareness programs in our local communities and nationwide.  


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