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Doing A Basic Online Safety Review

By Will from Holland

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Alright, you already know a lot about online safety when it comes to your personal and financial info on sites like Facebook. But right now is a perfect time to remind yourself why you have to be careful when you're online.

Here's a quick review of the one stupid mistake people our age continue to make, plus some tips to protect you from yourself and from the scammers who monitor social network sites constantly.

Still the biggest stupid act: posting troublesome pictures, videos or comments on your social network sites: "Troublesome" covers a lot of territory, too:

Thousands of scammers monitor what we do on social network sites. And maybe even worse, thousands of legitimate companies monitor the sites, too. A picture of you simply looking out of control in a party picture can persuade some companies not to hire you. Posting "My parents are out of town for ten days, so I'm partying!" is an open invite for house robbers or worse to try to join the party.

Scariest new twist in social network monitoring: nowadays, some insurance companies (think car insurance and health insurance) track what you do on social networking sites, too. Have lots of party pictures on there? Don't be surprised if your insurance is hiked.

Is that fair? Probably not. You could be drinking water all night at a party and still look crazy. But the law right now is on the side of the insurance companies: they can use whatever criteria they want to set rates. So, what do you do?

Duh! Edit your pictures or untag yourself.

Other easy but smart tips:

  1. "Lock–down" your Facebook account. We walk you through a simple procedure here: "Facebook and Your Privacy."
  2. Check your firewall and anti–virus programs. You do have a firewall, right? And a virus program? Right? If you haven't updated those programs, do it now. Just Google "security updates" in your browser.
  3. Get possessive with your personal and financial information. Don't store sensitive information or passwords on your computer or on websites.
    • Don't assume all websites are safe websites. Before even clicking on links in a strange website, use a search engine to check the website out. For instance, Google "problems with [name of the website.]" If the reviews are uniformly bad, stay away from the site.
  4. When making purchases, use a credit card. Don't use your debit card. Credit cards give you some protection.
  5. Brush up on "pharming, "phishing" and "smishing" scams aimed at people our age. This article will help: "Identity Theft."
  6. If you aren't familiar with a lot of the pitfalls of social networking sites, read this article: "Facebook & MySpace... Wicked!"

And finally, a word from the government! Even Washington has some good tips for you to be safer online. Head to:

But right now, head to your social networking site and edit those pix! Oh, and be sure to check out other related articles on our website.