The internet makes many everyday tasks faster and more convenient, like shopping and banking, but it’s important to be safe and responsible online. Scammers use the internet to try to trick you into sending them money or your personal information.

Recently, a local woman nearly fell victim to a scam while using her computer, said Detective Lt. Bob Rivers with the Crawfordsville Police Department. 

Rivers said the woman was online visiting a legitimate government website when a pop-up window led her astray. 

“She got to the place where it asked for her credit card information and she stopped short of providing it,” he said.

However, the woman’s situation is a reminder of how easily it can be to fall victim to a scam, Rivers said. And police want to take this opportunity to remind residents how to protect themselves.

According to information from the usa.gov website, if you believe you have been a victim of an internet-related crime, report it to these government authorities:

• The Internet Crime Complaint Center. The center refers internet-related criminal complaints to federal, state, local or international law enforcement. Keep in mind, you will need to contact your credit card company directly to notify them if you are disputing unauthorized charges on your card or if you suspect that your credit card number has been compromised.   

• The Federal Trade Commission. The FTC shares consumer complaints covering a wide range of categories, including online scams, with local, state, federal and foreign law enforcement partners. It cannot resolve individual complaints, but can give you information on the next steps to take. 

EConsumer.gov accepts complaints about online and related transactions with foreign companies. 

• The Department of Justice helps you report computer, internet-related or intellectual property crime to the proper agency based on the scope of the crime. 

Keep your computer and personal information safe when going online with these tips:

• Learn how to spot common scams and fraud. Find out the warning signs of internet fraud, phishing and other online scams. 

• Update your computer software. Download the latest versions of your operating system, web browsers and apps. 

• Talk to your children about being safe and responsible online. If you are a parent, help protect your kids online by teaching them about the risks. 

• Don’t share your passwords or sensitive information with anyone you don’t trust. Think about why someone needs it and if you can really trust the request. Laptop security is also important when using a portable computer in public to help prevent all your valuable information stored on it from falling into the hands of an identity thief. 

• Don’t use the same passwords for multiple accounts. Try to make your passwords unpredictable and avoid using names, dates or common words. 

• Don’t give out personal information over unencrypted websites. When shopping or banking online, only use websites that use encryption to protect your information as it goes from your computer to their server. 

Scam artists defraud millions of people each year by using internet services or software with internet access to trick victims into sending money or giving out personal information. That’s why it’s important to take steps to protect yourself from and report internet fraud.

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