• June 21, 2024
  • Posted by Bill Lantry
  • 5 read

What Parents Should Know About Scams Targeting Children and Teens

GECU Voices brings you thought leadership and insight from experts within the Credit Union. Today’s blog post was penned by Bill Lantry, Vice President of our Fraud Department.

In today's digital age, children are not only navigating the realms of education and socialization online but also facing potential risks such as scams and cyber fraud. As a parent, it's crucial to equip your kids with the knowledge and awareness necessary to recognize and avoid these deceptive practices. 

Online scams targeting kids and teens

1. Online gaming scams

Many kids are avid gamers, spending hours immersed in virtual worlds and online communities. Unfortunately, scammers often exploit this passion by offering fake in-game currency, cheat codes, or upgrades in exchange for personal information or payment. Remind your children never to share personal or financial details with strangers online and to be wary of offers that seem too good to be true.

2. Social media scams

Social media platforms are a popular hangout spot for kids, but they're also a breeding ground for scams. From fake friend requests to phishing links disguised as enticing videos or giveaways, children can easily fall prey to these deceptive tactics. Teach your kids to verify the identity of anyone they interact with online and to think twice before clicking on suspicious links or sharing private information.

Untitled-design-8.pngSome platforms even have features designed for kids that give parents greater control. For example, Messenger Kids is a Messenger alternative offered by Meta (formerly Facebook). Instagram also has parental supervision options such as usage limits and the ability to see who kids are following—and who’s following them. These options can help parents protect their kids while they interact with others online. 

3. Online shopping scams

With the rise of e-commerce, shopping online has become second nature for many families. The Federal Trade Commission warns that fake e-shops are in the top three most damaging online scams in terms of financial losses.1 The impact is significant—and so is the prevalence of these scams. In fact, Norton™’s software detects over 1,000 fake e-shops every day.2 

Children may not always have the discernment to distinguish between legitimate online stores and fraudulent ones. Unrealistic discounts and unusual payment methods, like cryptocurrency and gift cards, are two red flags to share with them. Warn your kids about the risks of making purchases from unfamiliar websites and encourage them to consult with you before entering any payment information online. 

4. Phishing scams

Phishing scams come in many forms, including fraudulent emails, text messages, or pop-up ads designed to trick recipients into revealing sensitive information. Children, with their natural curiosity and trust, may inadvertently click on these deceptive messages, putting themselves at risk. Teach your kids to recognize the signs of phishing attempts, such as spelling errors, suspicious sender addresses, and requests for personal information. Invite them to ask you if they are unsure what they’re seeing is legitimate. 

Tips for parents:

  • Educate your children about online safety from an early age.
  • Set clear boundaries and rules for internet usage.
  • Use parental controls and monitoring software to track your child's online activity.
  • Encourage open communication and create a safe space for your kids to share any concerns or encounters with online scams.

The digital landscape offers endless opportunities for learning and connection, but it also poses risks that parents must address. By arming your children with knowledge, awareness, and critical thinking skills, you can help them navigate the online world safely and confidently. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and together, we can protect our kids from falling victim to scams. Interested in learning more about scams and fraud? Visit General Electric Credit Union’s Money Minutes blog. Our security and financial education articles will provide the information you need to protect your money and make confident money decisions. 

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