It’s October and that means we’re kicking off National Cyber Security Awareness Month! In the coming weeks, your BBB Northwest + Pacific team will bring you relevant content on how to keep your kids, your business and yourself safe in an increasingly internet reliant world. 

To start Cyber Security Month off, we’re taking a close look at children and gaming. We know that consumers have access to nearly 1 million games in app stores. That makes it nearly impossible to keep track of all the ways your children could be vulnerable when they’re gaming.  

At the BBB, we understand that parents want their children to be safe while gaming, and that many use parental controls to do just that. Unfortunately, savvy scammers are always finding new ways to get to children. 

Many apps sell game-specific currency to players. Scammers take advantage of this, creating pop up ads offering free currency. The catch is that the player must go to another website that requires the user to submit personal information. Scammers can then steal identities, passwords and gain access to gaming accounts and the bank cards associated with them. 

Another serious risk for children is many online predators lurk in the chat rooms that accompany some games. 

“One of BBB’s top priorities is educating consumers about protecting their personal information,” said Tyler Andrew President and CEO of BBBNW+P. “We especially want children and their parents to understand the dangers of online gaming.”

This year marks the 16th Annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month Campaign aimed at raising the public’s awareness of the basic steps needed to stay safe online. 

Your BBB NW+P offers the following tips to help protect your children: 

• Be cautious of links. If an advertisement pops up while playing a game, don’t click on it. If you end up on one of these links, do not enter personal information. 

• Strengthen your password. Creating a long, strong password and changing passwords regularly can keep you from being hacked by scammers. 

• Set boundaries. The online gaming community often opens doors to new 

friendships with other players, but make sure that you do not exchange personal information with someone online that you do not know. 

Throughout the month of October, we will release more cyber safety tips and articles to help consumers and businesses stay vigilant. But don’t wait for us! Get digging into our library of cybersecurity resources at www.BBB.org/BBBSecure. Businesses, we have additional articles and tips for you at bbb.org/cybersecurity. Keep up with us in real time on social media!

Hannah Stiff is the Montana Marketplace Manager for BBB Northwest + Pacific. She can be reached at Hannah.stiff@thebbb.org.