You can use the Internet to send emails, find information, communicate with friends, and buy or sell goods and services. While the Internet can be a valuable source of information and entertainment, it’s a good idea to take steps to protect your privacy when you’re online.
- Protect your passwords. Don’t give out your account password to anyone, even someone claiming to be from your Internet Service Provider. Your account could be hijacked, and you could wind up with unexpected charges on your bill.
- Be careful who you deal with online. People aren’t always who they seem to be online. Be very careful about giving out your credit card number, phone number and home address.
- Don’t email sensitive information like credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, or bank account information. Email can be vulnerable to hackers. Submit information through a secure Web site instead, usually one that starts with “https.” Navigate your own way to the secure site. Clicking a link in an email might lead you to a fake Web site designed to steal your information.
- Remain anonymous in chat rooms. When you enter a chat room, others can know you are there and can even email you once you start chatting. To be anonymous, you may want to use a nickname as your screen name.
- Use privacy settings, but don't rely on them. On social networking sites like Facebook, utilize available privacy settings to keep the highest possible walls around your information. But don't put any information or images online if you want them to remain completely private. There are simply too many ways in which your online privacy can be compromised.
- Is that "Friend" an actual friend? Think carefully before you agree to let people who you do not actually know become your friends online. If you do decide to allow people you don't know "IRL" (in real life) to enter your online world, consider setting up a special group status that limits their access to your information and their ability to post comments. This can be an especially important protection for young people, who sometimes feel that they must accept every online invitation they receive.
- Talk to your kids about online privacy. Teach your children to check with you before giving out personal or family information and to look for privacy policies when they enter a Web site. Many kids’ sites now insist on a parent’s approval before they gather information from a child, but other sites state that they will use the information in any way that they choose, including advertising.
- Talk to your kids about Internet safety, such as which Web sites are safe to visit and what to do if a stranger contacts them online or if they find inappropriate materials or pictures.
We Can Help
If you have a complaint about Internet privacy, contact us for help or call toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.