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Steps you can take to keep personal info secure.

Sadly, there’s no safety lane on the information superhighway — which can be a problem, since kids spend a significant amount of time online.

Ninety-two percent of teens say they go online daily and more than half are online several times a day, according to the Pew Research Center. Even children 5 to 9 years old use the Internet for about 28 minutes each day, according to research from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, and the time spent on tablets and smartphones can be hard to supervise.

Young children, adolescents and teens are often cybercrime targets because they can be trusting, naïve and curious, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Cybercriminals often target children to trick them into giving up their parent’s financial information. And unfortunately, Americans age 20 and younger reported losses of $105,663,164 due to Internet crime, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

While you probably can’t prevent your children from going online, you can make some important moves to keep their personal information (and yours) secure: 

  1. Start the conversation: provides individual contracts for kids, teens and parents to sign as a way to commit to safe online practices. What’s great is that the contracts can be customized to suit your family’s specific needs. For example, you may want to assign certain time restrictions for when your kids can go online, or limit the exact URLs they can visit. Looking for something interactive and educational? Have your pre-teens take’s online safety quiz.
  2. Educate your kids on what not to share: Make sure your children know never to share their home address, Social Security number, password, or account number in a chat, email or other online communication. Also, let your kids know not to click on any links in emails, IMs or other messages that ask for personal information — as the Federal Trade Commission points out, legitimate businesses won’t ask for that over email or any insecure channel. McAfee offers advice on how to keep your kids safe in chatrooms, where they can innocently reveal private information that could lead to fraud.
  3. Show kids how to identify “iffy” items: According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, kids should avoid interacting with pop-up ads or websites that ask them to submit personal information or downloads from people or sites they don’t know. Teach your kids how to tell if a website is legitimate. cyber-safetyFor example, they must see the letters “https” in the URL or a picture of a lock on a website that asks for personal information.
  4. Pick a safe online identity: Parents® magazine recommends brainstorming a username and password together to ensure your child has a login that doesn’t contain any identifying information and isn’t simple enough for a hacker to guess.
 suggests making sure the password is at least eight characters long and includes numbers, capital letters and symbols. Caution your kids to never give out their passwords, even to their close friends, and take these 8 actions to avoid identity theft.
  5. Put safety tools in place: Browsers like Firefox® and Internet Explorer offer free features that let you block websites with questionable content so your kids can’t access them. You can also consider adding parental control software — TechRadar recently reviewed five free options. Cell phones, too, can be protected, so talk to your service provider — some offer add-on options that limit the number of texts users can send and the overall volume of web browsing, plus filters for inappropriate content and unknown call blocking. Check out Digital Trends’ top 5 kid-friendly cell phone picks for some suggestions and 6 tips to keep your teen’s cell phone bill under control.
  6. Amp up your protection level: Accidentally downloading viruses and spyware — which track online activity and can find out your passwords and other information — can harm your computer and help thieves carry out cybercrimes. Your kids may not understand what a pop-up for spyware is, and accidentally download it. As a preventive measure, add anti-virus software or software that blocks spyware, along with a strong personal firewall, to help prevent hackers from accessing your computer, according to the National Crime Prevention Council. (If you’re not familiar with this software, consider hiring a computer technician to help you install it.) BMO Harris customers can also download free security software from Trusteer1 to help protect against online fraud and identity theft.
  7. Consider using kid-safe browsers: You may also want to download an Internet browser specifically designed to provide kids with a safe online experience. According to PCMag, some block pop-ups, right-click menus and other potentially problematic items. Get kid-friendly browser and search site suggestions from Common Sense Media.
  8. Spread the word: Make sure any family members, such as grandparents, babysitters or other caregivers, know your Internet safety rules — including when they should be monitoring your child’s online time.
  9. Report crimes: If you think you or your child has experienced online identity theft or any other Internet safety issues, report it. You can file a complaint with the IC3, a joint partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center. You’ll need to provide your name, mailing address, telephone number, and any information you can offer about the individual or organization you believe defrauded you.

For additional tips on staying safe online, review our infographic on cybersecurity.

1 If you require any assistance using the software, please contact Trusteer directly at:
downloading and use of the Trusteer Rapport software is governed by the terms of the Rapport license agreement, which is provided with the software. BMO Harris makes no representation or warranty regarding the software or Trusteer’s website. You agree BMO Harris is not responsible for any difficulties, consequences, costs, claims, damages or losses arising in any way whatsoever out of the downloading or use of the software.


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