A few notes on how to stay safe online. A compilation from our members. 1. Do not give out your full name, address, or phone number to anyone online that you don't trust and/or don't know and that don't live in the same town as you. They might not be who they claim to be, so do not trust them if they guess the actual name of the person you are chatting with. To avoid confusing your friends with strangers, make a password you must say. (for example," If you are Ashley, say our password." Then Ashley will say,"Clever one true not example example totally unweird refrigerator magnets banana apple dancing Ugg boots.") Just mix a bunch of words together and make it pretty hard to guess by a stranger. Also call your friend to make sure they are online. 2. Never give out your bank account or credit card information unless you are shopping with a well known or highly rated online business. Check for secure transaction info. The best companies will have many security devices in place. You may see a gold lock at the bottom of the page to indicate a secure site. When giving any bank details or other information make sure the connection is secure (https) and the site is perfectly trustworthy. Not every site which runs https or accepts payments is trustworthy. Some good sites are Amazon.com, Buy.com, eBay, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and sites owned by major shopping centers such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy. 3. Never open e-mail attachments from strangers unless you can trust them and you have security settings on your computer. Some junk e-mails may contain viruses or spyware that can harm your computer. These e-mails may be automatically marked as "spam" or "junk". 4. Beware of spoof email claiming to be from eBay, PayPal, or a bank or a company name you know asking for personal or sensitive information. This is called phishing. The e-mail may inform you that there is a problem with your account/password. There may be a link to click inside. Forward any of these e-mails to the company it claims to be sent from. They will confirm whether the e-mail you received was real or not. Also, bear in mind that email programs like Yahoo!, MSN, etc. will never ask you for your email password. Don't fall for it. 5. If you decide to meet someone in person from online, go to a public place and let friends and family know your plans. Have an alternate plan if things turn out badly. 6. Get a good anti-virus program, spyware remover, and firewall. There are free programs available online, such as avast! antivirus, Grisoft's AVG Free, Microsoft Anti-Spyware and Webroot, and Sygate personal firewall. They will block most attempts and alert you if problems are found. 7. Read the fine print. There are many survey sites that pay you for answering questions and filling out forms. If you do not want to receive junk mail or get put on a telemarketer list, look for a small box near the bottom of the page that asks if you want to receive information and offers from other companies. The best sites will have a statement listed that they will not sell your name to other companies. Some sites require you to give all your information to get the product. Although sometimes, you may get a ton of spam. Only fill in required fields that are marked with a *. If the info box does not have an asterisk, it is optional and you can leave it blank. 8. Monitor young children's (under 10) activities closely and use parental controls when available. Use a password a child will not guess. Install parental control software. The Internet is not child-friendly. 9. Tell your preteens (under 13) to write down every website they go to. Also monitor them when they are signing up for a website. Also, do not let your children sign up for or any other chat sites (MySpace etc.) They are focused for an older audience so here are some recommendations for children ages 6-13. (See External links) 10. Change your passwords every month or so. Try not to use the same password more than once at a time. Also, make your password something original such as,"[email protected]" A harder way to do it is by mixing up a jumble of letters, but be aware, it might be harder to memorize, so write in on a piece of paper - keep this hidden from view (not, for example, on a note stuck to your monitor). Make it exceptionally hard to guess, especially if it has your personal information. 11. Check the URL Always make sure the site your using is really what you think it is before you enter your details or a password For example, if you want to log into Facebook you would check to make sure the site ENDS with (what-ever).facebook.com not ".facebook-videos.com" or anything like that. usually when a site ends like that (very close to a popular website) it means that they want to try and either get your password or get your personal details. 12. Be careful with your details Always be careful what you say on the internet, remember only say what you would be happy to say to some random person on the street, (This means on sites like twitter, facebook, bebo, myspace etc. don't say sentences like: I am going to a party at (Insert address/venue here) or My name is (Full name) stuff like that can get you into a whole lot of trouble with people you have never even met before.