Never publicly post
in ANY online forum any personally identifiable information.
What is personally identifiable information? It’s any personal
information that could be used to find or identify you in real life.
This could be such information as your real name, address, telephone
number, cell number, your sports team, health club, or links to websites
or other profiles that might give this information away.
Even without meaning
to, you can give this information away by taking a picture in
front of your car with your license plate, home address, workplace,
school, etc showing in the photo. You may be wearing a school or team
t-shirt, a scout uniform or baseball cap that might give away ways of
finding you offline. This information could be misused to steal your
identity, guess your passwords, cyber stalk, cyber bully or harass you
or by predators who really want to hurt you.
Always keep in mind
that some individuals will maintain contact with the intent to glean as
many small bits of information as possible. When viewed as a
whole, these seemingly innocuous facts can used to determine a
prospective victim’s actual location. They may use multiple screen names
and user profiles, pretending to be other people, to gather more
information from someone who might not be willing to continue talking to
a stranger beyond a few conversations.
An easy guide for kids and
teens is to tell them never to post anything that their parents
and principal shouldn’t see.
related note, NEVER post any information or pictures that you
would NOT want to be broadcast to the entire world. Remember,
once you hit that send button, you will have virtually NO control over
how this information will be used, or who may end up viewing it. A
typical scenario involves one member persuading another to send them
sexually explicit pictures of themselves. This can eventually lead to
threats of publishing the pictures Internet-wide, or forwarding them to
a victim’s friends, coworkers, and family members. Can you even imagine
the level of embarrassment you may be forced to suffer?
NEVER give personal information to anyone
you have not met in person. While it is human nature to want to know
about the other person, their name, age, what they look like, where they
live, this information is not needed to carry on a conversation. If
someone presses you for this type of information, back away!
Especially if the requests come early in your relationship. Most users
with legitimate intentions will realize WHY you are reluctant to tell
them, and will respect your desire to play it safe.
NEVER agree to meet someone you have only
met online unless you have a mutual friend that could possibly vouch for
If you are under the age of 18 NEVER meet
up with someone you have only met online unless your parents not only
know who this person is, but agree to go along with you to the meeting.
If you feel you just must meet a new
online acquaintance, NEVER go alone, and ALWAYS meet in a very public
place like a popular coffee shop, a busy shopping mall, or similar
Choose your screen name carefully. Never
include your real name, or any elements of it. Choose something fun, yet
gender neutral. You may think that having a risqué screen name is cute,
but be advised, you will attract the type of people your screen name
appeals to. A screen name such as “Panda” is much less provocative than
“SexMagnet”. And much less offensive to many of your fellow netizens.
Resist the urge to ‘tell people off’ or
engage in ‘flame wars’. People come in all temperaments, and as in real
life, there are those who will try to provoke you into an argument. This
type of activity is becoming all too common online these days. Many
people feel power through the anonymity that the keyboard gives them.
Therefore, if you encounter someone who is rude in online chats, ignore
them, back away! Most importantly, resist the urge to strike
back at them. This type of person craves the attention their behavior
brings them. Deprived of this attention, most either quit acting like
jerks, or else move on. Either way, you have avoided a confrontation
that can quickly escalate into a full-fledged harassment situation.
Remember your Netiquette and be nice!
Interesting Internet Safety Story
Something to think
Shannon could hear
the footsteps behind her as she walked toward home. The thought of being
followed made her heart beat faster. "You're being silly," she told
herself, "no one is following you." To be safe she began to walk
faster, but the footsteps kept up with her pace. She was afraid to look
back and she was glad she was almost home. Shannon said a quick prayer,
"God please get me home safe." She saw the porch light burning and ran
the rest of the way to her house. Once inside she leaned against the
door for a moment, relieved to be in the safety of her home. She glanced
out the window to see if anyone was there. The sidewalk was empty.
After tossing her
books on the sofa she decided to grab a snack and get on-line. There
she could talk to strangers without being afraid. After all, no one
knew who she really was and couldn't hurt her. She logged on under her
screen name ByAngel213. Checking her Buddy List she saw GoTo123 was
on. She sent him an instant message:
ByAngel213: Hi I'm
glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today. It
was really weird!
GoTo123: LOL you
watch too much TV. Why would someone be following you? Don't you live
in a safe neighborhood?
course I do LOL I guess it was my imagination cause I didn't see
anybody when I looked out.
GoTo123: Unless you
gave your name out on line. You haven't done that have you?
course not. I'm not stupid you know.
GoTo123: Did you
have a softball game after school today?
and we won!
great! Who did you play?
played the Hornets LOL. Their uniforms are so gross! They look like
GoTo123: What is
your team called?
ByAngel213: We are
the Brockton Boxers. Our colors are red and black and we have a bull
dog on our uniforms. They are really kewl.
GoTo123: Do you
pitch or what?
ByAngel213: No I
play second base. I got to go. My homework has to be done before
my parents get home. I don't want them mad at me. Bye
GoTo123: Catch you
GoTo123 decided it
was time to teach Angel a lesson. One she would never forget.
He went to the
member menu and began to search for her profile. When it came up he
highlighted it and printed it out. He took out a pen and began to
write down what he knew about Angel so far.
Her name: Shannon
Birthday: Jan. 3,
1986 age 13
State where she
chorus, skating and going to the mall.
information he knew she lived in Brockton. She had just told him. He
knew she stayed by herself until 6:30 every afternoon until her parents
came home from work. He knew she played softball on Thursday afternoons
on the school team and the team was named the Boxers. Her favorite
number 7 was printed on her jersey. He knew she was in the seventh grade
at a Brockton Junior High School. She had told him all this in the
conversations they had on line. He had enough information to find her
now. "She'll be so surprised" he thought, "she doesn't even know what
she has done."
Shannon didn't tell
her parents about the incident on the way home from the ball park that
day. She didn't want them to make a scene and stop her from walking home
from the softball games. Parents were always overreacting and hers were
the worst. It made her wish she was not an only child. Maybe if she had
brothers and sisters her parents wouldn't be so overprotective.
By Thursday Shannon
had forgotten about the footsteps following her. Her game was in full
swing when suddenly she felt someone staring at her. It was then that
the memory came back. She glanced up from her second base position to
see a man watching her closely. He was leaning against the fence behind
first base and he smiled when she looked at him. He didn't look scary
and she quickly dismissed the fear she had felt. After the game he sat
on a bleacher while she talked to the coach. She noticed his smile once
again as she walked past him. He nodded and she smiled back. He noticed
her name on back of the shirt. He knew he had found her. Quietly he
walked a safe distance behind her.
He didn't want to
frighten her and have to explain what he was doing to anyone. It was
only a few blocks to Shannon's home and once he saw where she lived. He
quickly returned to the park to get his car. Now he had to wait. He
decided to get a bite to eat until the time came to go to Shannon's
house. He drove to a fast food restaurant and sat there until time to
make his move.
Shannon was in her
room later that evening when she heard voices in the living room.
"Shannon, come here" her father called. He sounded upset and she
couldn't imagine why. She went into the room to see the man from the
ballpark sitting on the sofa. "Sit down," her father began, "this man is
a policeman and he has just told us a most interesting story about
you." Shannon moved cautiously to a chair across from the man. How
could he tell her parents anything? She had never seen him before today!
"Do you know who I am Shannon?" The man asked. "No" Shannon
answered. "I am your online friend, GoTo123." Shannon was stunned.
"That's impossible! GoTo is a kid my age! He's 14 and he lives in
Michigan!" The man smiled. "I know I told you all that but it wasn' t
true. You see Shannon there are people on line who pretend to be kids; I
was one of them. But while others do it to find kids and hurt them, I
belong to a group of parents who do it to protect kids from predators.
I came here to find you to teach you how dangerous it is to give out too
much information to people on line. You told me enough about yourself to
make it easy for me to find you. Your name, the school you went to, the
name of your ball team and the position you played. The number and name
on your jersey just made finding you a breeze."
stunned. "You mean you don't live in Michigan?" He laughed. "No, I live
in Brockton. It made you feel safe to think I was so far away, didn't
it?" She nodded. "I had a friend whose daughter was like you. Only
she wasn't as lucky. The guy found her and attempted to abduct her
while she was home alone. Kids are taught not to tell anyone when they
are alone, yet they do it all the time on-line. The wrong people trick
you into giving out information a little here and there on-line. Before
you know it, you have told them enough for them to find you without even
realizing you have done it. I hope you've learned a lesson from this
and won't do it again."
"I won't," Shannon
"Will you tell
others about this so they will be safe too?"
"It's a promise!"
That night Shannon
and her parents had a long conversation about her Internet experience
and online friends. They worked out a set of ground rules both Shannon
and her parents felt comfortable with. They all agreed that this time
they were lucky. If the person who tracked down Shannon was not a
police officer, the results could have lead to a scary and possibly
tragic situation. Remember the potential danger of giving away too much
information about yourself. The world we live in is too dangerous to
even give out your age, let alone any other information that may be used
to trace who you really are and where to find you.
Be Smart. Be Safe!
*This story was adapted from the original "Shannon" story posted to the
internet, author unknown.
MORE TO COME.........
© 2011 East Bridgewater Police