With the increase in teens being held accountable for online pranks including creating fake Facebook pages and cyberbullying, it is important for parents and everyone to know about the potential risks of crime in cyberspace.
Crimes can occur online. Fraudulent sales, identity theft, child pornography and other crimes fit the description of crimes committed online. The good news is that the average person can also use the internet to fight crime. Not only can you fight crime that is occurring online but you can also fight street crime via the internet as well.
The following list provides ten ways that you can help fight crime online.
- Most wanted Many of us have watched the television program “America’s Most Wanted” and seen how many criminals are being arrested because of the information broadcast to the public. There are many most wanted websites available on the internet for individuals to browse through. Mostwanted.org provides lists of the most wanted across the world and in the United States. Many states and even counties now post pictures of their most wanted lists on their law enforcement pages. By browsing these sites, you have the opportunity to assist law enforcement in capturing these fugitives from justice.
- IC3.gov This is the website for the Internet Crime Complaint Center for the FBI. An individual, anywhere in the world, can go to this site and file a complaint regarding crime taking place on the internet. The FBI uses this database of complaints to assist law enforcement in building strong cases against cyber criminals. By registering your complaints at this site, you assist the government in their attempt to curtail internet crimes.
- Neighborhood Watch Many neighborhoods participate in the neighborhood watch program to help deter crime in their part of the city. Some neighborhood watch groups are now using the internet to keep their participants informed regarding pertinent information relating to crime in their area.
- Crimestoppers This nonprofit organization has been working to help fight crime for many years. You can assist them in their efforts by posting one of their internet banners on your website or blog. They provide their banners free to whomever asks and have a variety of banner sizes and messages to choose from.
- Criminal Justice Degree You can now get a specialized Criminal Justice Degree focused on fighting cyber crime. If you want to fight internet crime full time as a career, that option is now available through many post high school programs.
- Local law enforcement sights Your city and/or county law enforcement agencies all have websites these days. Many of them are making use of this technology to improve their services to the community. On some sites you can report crimes through a fill-in form. Other sites provide graphical pin maps that diagram out the local crime spots. One city provides the opportunity to register for their vacation watch program through their website.
- Email safeguards Phishing through emails remains a problem. These are emails that come to you which look very legitimate. They may say they are from your bank or credit card company and ask you to verify some of your private information. Your banks and credit card services would never do this. The senders of the emails are ‘phishing’ for your private information in order to use it for their own gain. Help stop this problem by not responding to suspicious emails.
- Secure sites Our browsers all come equipped with a little security icon, usually in the shape of a paddle lock If the lock is closed, that means you are accessing a site where your private information is kept secure. Always check the security status of a site before entering sensitive information such as your credit card number.
- Protect children Teach your children about the dangers of providing private information on the internet or via email. Monitor their online relationships with people you don’t know. Don’t post pictures of children on public sites with full names or addresses. Predators of children browse the web as well as the streets looking for victims.
- Report illegal activity If you believe you have experienced or observed criminal activity online, report it. If law enforcement doesn’t it know about it they can’t do anything to stop it. Don’t hesitate to report simply because someone else already has. Law enforcement needs multiple complaints to validate their charges. The more verified complaints the better.
Be informed. Report fraudulent and criminal behavior to the proper authorities. Support organizations like Crimestoppers and America’s Most Wanted. In doing these things, you can call yourself a crime fighter and be proud of it.
Special thanks to contributor, Erica Morgan of Internet Providers.
The Broward County Library offers a vast amount of resources for you to share with your children and teens about cybersafety. Broward County is also the home of the landmark case for Internet defamation and invasion of privacy. Read about it in Health Communications, Inc (HCI) book, Google Bomb! The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet.
Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.