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How to Increase Your Internet Safety

Web site teaches internet safety and security

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Seniors are the fastest growing group of Internet users, but as the newest users they also tend to have the least online experience.

To help seniors, baby boomers, and other Internet users improve their Internet safety, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has developed a Web site providing tips, articles, videos, and interactive activities that teach consumers how to protect themselves from the risks associated with using the Internet.

A Wealth of Internet Safety Information, at No Charge
Created in partnership with cybersecurity experts, online marketers, consumer advocates, and other federal officials, the FTC site, called "OnGuard Online," addresses important Internet safety topics including:

  • How to recognize scams on the Internet
  • How to shop securely online
  • How to avoid hackers and viruses
  • How to deal with spam, spyware, phishing, and peer-to-peer file sharing

Educated Consumers Improve Internet Safety
The FTC Internet safety initiative offers plain, straightforward language in online materials aimed at helping computer users learn to be on guard against Internet fraud, to keep their computers secure, and to protect their personal information.

“Consumer education is critical to our success in securing the Web against hackers, viruses, spam, and spyware. Education truly is the first line of defense for computer users against fraud and deception online,” said FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras. “An aware computer user is more likely to recognize a phishing e-mail, more likely to download a spyware detector, and far less likely to disclose, expose, or unwittingly share personal information.”

Majoras said that partnership efforts to develop and promote the OnGuard Online message include:

  • Microsoft helped develop the OnGuard Online branding and contributed a series of security videos for the site.
  • i-SAFE, a congressionally chartered organization that provides age-appropriate curricula to schools, is incorporating OnGuard Online’s Internet safety messages and distributing OnGuard Online materials at its events.
  • In Oregon, U.S. Attorney Karen Immergut and State Attorney General Hardy Myers convened the Oregon Safe Cyberspace Initiative. Comcast and Qwest, participants in the initiative, included hundreds of thousands of bill stuffers to their customers in Oregon with information about Internet safety and computing.
  • EBay is helping to increase Internet safety by promoting OnGuard Online and providing links to the site.
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service advertising asks consumers to “Stop, Think, Click.” People who call the toll-free number in the ads will receive a copy of the “Stop, Think, Click: Seven Practices for Safer Computing.”
  • The Direct Marketing Association is co-branding the “Seven Practices” brochure and sharing copies with consumers and its members.

Start Increasing Your Internet Safety
“Stop, Think, Click: Seven Practices for Safer Computing” and other OnGuard Online information are available from the FTC’s Web site at www.onguardonline.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.

Are You a Victim of Internet Fraud? How to File a Complaint with the FTC
The FTC works for the consumer to increase Internet safety by preventing fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them.

To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at www.ftc.gov.

The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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