It will soon be back to school time for some college students. Do you have a child going off to college for the first time? Below are a few tips provided by Iovation regarding online safety for students. Iovation is an online fraud and reputation management company.

Here are 8 tips to keep your college-bound student safe(r) online.

  1. The Internet is forever—think about future employers, including those coveted summer internships

    Don’t post anything online, including inappropriate photos, which would make a future employer think twice about hiring you. Good judgment is something employers look for, show that you have it.

  2. Don’t add your address to your Facebook profile

    Keep your address private. Anyone who needs your address can get it from you directly.

  3. Don’t broadcast your location

    Go ahead and check-in at your favorite coffee place and post photos of you and friends at a concert. Just do it sparingly. People don’t need to know where you are all the time or when your dorm room or apartment might be empty.

  4. Don’t “friend” people you don’t know

    Be choosy when it comes to friending people on social media. Just because someone sends you a friend request doesn’t mean you have to accept it—especially if you have no idea who they are.

  5. Guard your social security number

    Your social security number is a winning lottery ticket to a fraudster. It is the key to stealing your identity and taking over your accounts. Keep your social security card locked away in a safe place. Memorize the number so you can minimize using the card itself. Question anyone who asks for your social security card. Employers, banks, credit card companies and the department of motor vehicles are some of the few legitimate entities who may need your social security number. Never give it out online or in email.

  6. Don’t use the same password everywhere

    All your accounts need a password, but not the same one. Consider using an all-in-one password manager. If you choose this option make sure that you log out of the service when not in use. Get in the habit of locking your computer and shutting it off at night.

  7. Beware of emails phishing for personal information

    Be very wary of any email with a link that asks you to disclose your credit card details, username, password or social security number. These emails can look official but no bank, or other legitimate business, should email asking for this information.

  8. Be Wi-Fi savvy and safe

    Free Wi-Fi at coffee shops, libraries and restaurants make these great places to hang out and study. However, free comes at the cost of security. Unsecured networks create the risk of identity theft and other personal information being stolen. Make sure sites you visit use encryption software (website addresses start with https:// and usually display a lock in the browser address bar) to block identity thieves when using public Wi-Fi. Additionally, be careful to avoid using mobile apps that require credit card data or personal information on public Wi-Fi as there is no visible indicator of whether the app uses encryption. In general it’s best to conduct sensitive transactions on a secured private network or through your phone’s data network rather than public Wi-Fi.

Your college-bound teenager is more connected to their friends, and the world, through devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops, than any generation before. Every day they like, tweet, text and share. As long as they use common sense and take a few precautions, their online world can be a safe one that provides value.

Here are a few tips I would add to their list:

Be suspicious first and trusting later regarding everything online.

Use common sense.  Think before you click, even if the link or email is supposedly from someone you know and trust.

If you have a smartphone, tablet or computer, always keeping your operating system, software and especially your antivirus software updated.  New viruses (threats) are created practically every day.


John L. Jones

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