Consumer Alert: Keeping keiki safe from back-to-school online scams

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Kids are in school again, but they all aren’t back in the classrooms.

Some are online and on Zoom, which exposes them to internet predators.

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“Even before the pandemic,” said Roseann Freitas, Hawaii Better Business Bureau marketplace manager, ” we were giving out warnings about children and online access because it comes with so many issues for adults, you can only imagine for children, right?”

Keiki will need an email to sign up for teleconference sites like Zoom, and as adults know, emails come with junk mail. Kids receive these annoying messages as well, but they do not have the online experience and are much more vulnerable.

“So now these kids are getting inundated with different emails, just like we do about ‘free this or discounted this’ — and they’re trusting.”

Roseann Freitas, BBB Hawaii marketplace manager

There are also apps. Specific applications may be assigned for a particular class, but others can collect and share personal data about your child or include paid features.

“If the child has to download something onto their system, the best thing is for the parent to sit there with them,” Freitas said. “Second is to really have that conversation with your child and explain how it can steal money from you, steal your identity and even locate where you’re living, which can be dangerous.”

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So moms and dads should get familiar with the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, which is a program that keeps track of what children are seeing on the internet and informs parents of any issues. There is also the Family Online Safety Institute, which is a great resource for families who want to learn about digital safety measures.

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