In a digital world, children and young people have constant access to the internet, online gaming systems and mobile phones along with thousands of applications and games. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the popularity of online sites, apps and games to create convincing scams that are hard for adults, let alone kids to recognize and avoid. There are several best practices you can adopt as a parent or guardian to limit your child’s exposure to frauds and scams:
- Use parental controls for devices, websites and gaming platforms that your child accesses – many devices, websites, gaming platforms and Internet Service Providers provide tools to help you protect your kids online. Take advantage of the protection features available to help you manage your children’s online access including the types of websites they access, who can contact them and how they can make purchases.
- Explain that account information is private – explain to your kids that they should never share account information with anyone except you, not even with their friends. Your child’s account may contain sensitive personal information, including your credit card account information. Game companies would also never ask for sensitive personal information like bank account numbers and passwords or Social Insurance Numbers. Demands for any kind of personal information is a key warning sign of a scam.
- Never use Personal Identifiable Information (PPI) in an account profile – teach kids that their real names, addresses, phone numbers or school information should never be used to set up a social network or gaming profile. Information in a profile may be publicly available, so it’s important to use fictional names or skip the profile building process completely if possible.
- Teach kids about the dangers of opening suspicious links even if they appear to have come from "friends" – suspicious links on websites, sent by text, through in‑game chats and by email can put malicious software on your device, steal your login details and passwords, and lead to personal information and your kids’ gaming assets being put up for sale. Learn more about how to spot a phishing email and share with your kids to they can spot a scam email too.
- Protect account information – Always choose a strong, unique password for your accounts and, if available, enable two‑factor authentication to help protect your child’s accounts from unauthorized access.
- Beware of fake websites and phone applications and only make purchases on official gaming platforms – Many games offer in‑app or in‑game purchases to enhance the gaming experience. The extreme popularity of online games makes creating game scams very attractive to cyber criminals. Scam websites can look very professional but often contain malicious code or provide game currency in exchange for personal information. Kids should avoid all offers they see on social networks or through in‑game chats for "free" game currency.
The Canadian government’s Get Cyber Safe websites lists a number of resources to help parents keep their kids safe online.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s graphic novel, Social Smarts: Privacy, the Internet and You, can help older kids better understand and navigate privacy issues.
The CBA’s free in‑class seminar for high school students, Your Money Students, includes tips and information on how to recognize and avoid fraud in a digital world.