Summer Internet Safety: Vacation Planning, Kids Time Online, and Check Your Credit Scores

Summertime often means vacation plans and an increased need to protect your information on the go. It’s when kids have with more free-time, and summer Internet rules need to be in place. Get your summer off to the right start by following these simple guidelines.

Parents

Set summer boundaries for online use.  With kids out of school, and perhaps struggling with less face-time with friends, many kids go overboard online. Setting expectations early – and using tools to limit time spent online – can be the solution to a healthy

balance of online and offline time, and reduce daily friction. Remind kids that they should never discuss things online that should be kept private – like when your family will be on vacation – as this exposes your home and family to risk.

If your kids are gamers, teach them to only use reputable gaming sites, and to never click on ads offering free games as these are likely to download malware as well as the game. There are excellent tips to follow in Microsoft’s Safer Online Gaming brochure.

Summer is also a time when kids are more likely to meet online friends in person. Rather than banning meetings, work with your child to set these up in a safe way.

  • Your permission and involvement is a requirement.
  • Any meeting should be in a public place with you in attendance, at a time when plenty of people are around, and after you have learned about this friend and their family.
  • Use caution. If anything doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts.

Everyone

Don’t tell your thousand closest online friends when you’ll be away, as one – or more – of them may just be a crook. This includes being careful about away messages you may place on your e-mail on instant messaging (IM) accounts. Anything that indicates that your home may be empty, etc. opens opportunities for home break-ins, unauthorized partying, and more.

If you are using a location tracking tool, turn it off. Nothing screams “I’m not home” like a having your location display in Barcelona.

Recurring Events

It’s time again to check your credit history. Request a free credit report for you, your spouse, and any minors over the age of 13 living at home to check for any credit fraud or inaccuracies that could put you in financial risk.

  • Take the time to place reminders on your calendar to do this again in November and February (you have the right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to get one free credit disclosure in a twelve-month period from each of the three national credit reporting companies—TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.)
  • The easiest way to get your free credit reports is through AnnualCreditReport.com. Alternatively, you can pay for credit monitoring services that will proactively alert you to any suspicious activity or changes in your credit scores.

Want more monthly tips? If you’re an IE user you’re in luck. To help you stay safer year-round, we’ve worked with Microsoft to development a free, Internet Safety Calendar application that you can download to your Internet Explorer browser (Note: only IE is supported at this time).

Built by LOOKBOTHWAYS, the calendar provides relevant monthly advice to help you increase your online safety and the safety of those you help protect. The calendar also includes recurring reminders for those safety actions you know you should be doing, but that frequently get forgotten in the rush of day-to-day activities.

Each month, the calendar will send you a note reminding you to check the calendar for important online safety advice, but, once installed you can also view the app at any time by selecting Online Safety Calendar under the Tools menu.

To access the Internet Safety Calendar application, go to Free Internet safety calendar.

Linda

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