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United Way Blog

Take Steps to Avoid Cybercrime

(This blog was co-authored by Taryn Porter from the Cybercrime Support Network and Rachel Krausman, Senior Director of 211)

When you hear the phrase “cybercrime,” you might not think about your kids – but you should. Computer viruses, ransomware and identify theft happen to children every day, according to the Cybercrime Support Network, one of United Way’s partners.

Cyber thieves regularly target children and teens where they’re most active, like chat rooms, social media, video streaming sites and online video games. Children are targets because they often have high trust in people but little knowledge of cybersecurity.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but it’s always a good time for parents and caregivers to get educated on protecting kids from cybercrime. Check out parent tips from the Center for Cyber Safety and Education here.

United Way is stepping up to combat cybercrime, too. United Way of Rhode Island launched America’s first statewide cybercrime hotline this spring, in partnership with the Cybercrime Support Network. The cybercrime hotline ensures that Rhode Islanders have the resources they need while guiding them through the process of reporting, recovering, and reinforcing their security following a cybercrime. The hotline is managed by United Way’s 211, which takes nearly 200,000 calls per year. 211 is a vital service that connects people to critical resources. It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7. So far, Rhode Island residents have asked for help with identify theft, hacked accounts or devices, financial/purchase scams, cyberbullying and imposter scams.

United Way is leading outreach efforts across Rhode Island, to help educate people about cybercrime. Corporate partners support that outreach, too. For example, CVS and Citizens Bank employees are creating Cyber Literacy Buddy Kits this month, which educate parents and children about how to be safe while using the internet. The kits include parent cybercrime tip sheets and 211 information, along with a copy of the children’s book, The Berenstain Bears’ Computer Trouble, coloring sheets, crayons and a stuffed bear.

The 211 cybercrime response program created by United Way Worldwide, 211 and The Cybercrime Support Network – along with United Way Rhode Island, Heart of West Michigan and Heart of Florida United Way -- is now in place in parts of Michigan and Florida as well. If you live in Rhode Island; Kent County, MI; Orange County, FL; Osceola County, FL; and Seminole County, FL, you can dial 211 now for immediate cybercrime recovery help.

Next year, the 211 cybercrimes support network will be expanding to New Jersey, North Carolina and Mississippi.

Wherever you live, you can get help from FraudSupport.org,  a national online resources page powered by the Cybercrime Support Network. With 900 cybercrime incidents reported in the U.S. every day, don't take any chances – get the facts now.

#cybersecurity  #cybercrime #cyberaware #211

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