Tips & Advice

Protect your Teen against Cyber Criminals

Teens are often targeted for scams and fraud, resulting in lifelong consequences. Learn ways to be cautious and the red flags to spot.

Presented by Larry Larsen
Director of Cyber Security, Apple FCU

June is a wonderful time for teenagers; many are driving now, and looking for jobs to pay for summer fun or to put towards college. Others may be graduating and looking for full-time employment while they decide what direction to take.

When I was their age, we would look in the newspaper classifieds or the local “help wanted” bulletin boards for jobs that fit our skills and interests, but these days everything is on the Internet. Websites like Monster, Indeed, and others provide a great way to find whatever kind of job you want.

Unfortunately, there are also a number of cyber crooks who take advantage of teenagers who want a job with a paycheck. These crooks post ads on websites or social media where they know they’ll get a lot of exposure, advertising decently paying positions requiring minimal effort or skills, like the old “envelope-stuffing” jobs from years back.

The problem with these ads, of course, is that the job doesn’t exist. Typically the bad guy advertises a position that can be done from home, whenever you want to work, for a good wage. All the job-seeker needs to do to apply is provide his/her name, address, date of birth, phone number, and maybe even a Social Security Number.

Everything a bad guy needs for identity theft. The job never materializes, the applicant gives up on it and moves on to something else, and doesn’t give it another thought. The first indication the victim has that they’ve been had is much later, when they discover their credit is horrible, or worse, they have credit accounts with thousands of dollars unpaid.

The bottom line is the same as it ever was: if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. No legitimate employer is ever going to ask for personal information by way of email or social media; even for a part-time summer job. The applicant will have to go through an application process on the company’s or recruiter’s website, and more than likely an in-person interview, if not several. Never send personal information through email for any reason.

One last thing before we wrap up: another profitable venue for cyber criminals targeting teenagers is online games. In December 2018, Google removed 22 games and applications from their Play Store after security vendor Sophos discovered that the apps were being used for fraud or misuse.

If a user has to enter personal information to activate a downloaded app, or pay for a game with credit card information, and the source of that app or game is a cyber crook, he now has that personal or credit card information to use for his own profit.

Some of these malicious apps have also been found to quietly install software on the user’s device that collects and sends back personal information, or other nasty things the user never knows about. If the app asks for a credit card or personal information, just delete it.