Officials are urging parents to be extra-cautious to protect kids from online predators.

“Be it through social media or other online messaging apps, predatory criminals have used sly communications efforts to victimize neighbors including children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney M. Rhett DeHart.  “Our office urges the public to utilize the FBI Safe Online Surfing Program that covers important topics like cyberbullying, passwords, malware, and social media, while also understanding and following measures proven to help protect them in the consistently-evolving technological world.”

Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart offers the following advice for families to utilize to keep their families safe:

Advice for Children

  1. Keep your accounts private.
  2. Do not accept requests from strangers. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
  3. Be selective about the information and pictures you share online. Know and assume that any content you create online – texts, photos and/or videos – can and will be made public, permanently.  Nothing “disappears” online.  Once you send something, you have no control over where it goes.
  4. Understand that people can pretend to be anything/anyone online and that images can be altered or stolen.
  5. Be suspicious and stop communicating if you meet someone on one app, and they ask you to move to a different platform.
  6. If you feel overwhelmed or victimized, do not hesitate to ask for help, including that of law enforcement.  Do not feel ashamed to report crimes.
  7. Immediately report anything you may believe is illegal to your local police department or to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or https://tips.fbi.gov.

Advice for Adults

  1. Openly communicate with your children about online activity and possible victimization.
  2. Place limits on internet use and consider shutting down Wi-Fi overnight.
  3. Know and maintain passwords to phones, tablets, and computers.
  4. Spot check phones, tablets and computers and know what apps are being used and what is being downloaded.
  5. Ensure social media settings are set at the strictest level possible.
  6. Monitor who is in communication with your child and what is being said.
  7. Immediately report anything you may believe is illegal to your local police department or to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or https://tips.fbi.gov.