As children are released from school for the summer, traffic on popular teen music, celebrity and movie websites increases. Internet security service provider CyberDefender has issued an advisory to parents to keep a close eye on the websites their children are visiting this summer. Popular sites that provide the latest information on celebrities, gossip, movies and music provide a prime opportunity for resourceful identity thieves to obtain sensitive information from users or redirect them to scam websites.
"Cyber criminals have increasingly focused on youth, realizing their naivete," CyberDefender chief information officer Igor Barash said. "Teens will search any rumor about Justin Bieber, the 16-year-old singing sensation, or comb the search engines for news about upcoming teen flicks like 'Eclipse,' the new Twilight franchise movie, and cyber criminals know that."
Parents should caution teens against the dangers of downloading movie clips, music videos and images from websites they do not recognize, CyberDefender says. This is especially true for obtaining clips from movies that haven't been released yet. As clips from unreleased movies may not be legally obtained for downloading until after the film is released, the risk of downloading spyware and viruses along with the film greatly increases. Given the heightened computer risk, consumers should refrain from inputting their credit card information.
One way to avoid some bad websites is to simply spell a celebrity's name or movie correctly. While typos and misspellings may seem harmless, the security provider warns that "squatter" sites often purchase URLs with similar spellings to lure unsuspecting consumers that may not notice the slight difference. Consumers that are on a squatter site they believe to be legitimate may be more likely to give up personal information and credit card account numbers to make purchases.
Teens that want to purchase celebrity or movie memorabilia should opt for sites such as eBay or Amazon that have the proper security measures in place to better protect consumer information.
Identity theft is a booming industry for criminals, affecting more than 11 million Americans each year. The losses connected to internet fraud continue to grow, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The group - funded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation - reveals that losses tied to internet crimes grew from $183.1 million in 2005 to $559.7 million in 2009.