Children — now spending long hours online because of the shift to remote learning — are facing increased risks from cyber predators. Reports of child luring, sextortion and other types of child exploitation are on the rise in New Jersey, according to the state attorney general’s office. Since the pandemic shutdown began in mid-March, it reports that tips to the State Police’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force — including tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — have increased up to 50% compared to the same period last year.
Cybercrime in general has risen during the pandemic as have public data breaches. Consumers nationwide have lost more than $156 million to COVID-19-related fraud and, according to the attorney general’s office, New Jersey consumers reported a loss of $4.45 million to such fraud between April and June. In addition, complaints of identity theft are up by 66% in the state compared to the same period in 2019.
“From websites hawking cures and soliciting donations for phony charities, to phishing emails promising unemployment and debt relief, cyber-thieves have been adapting and changing their tactics to exploit the latest news and public concerns related to the coronavirus,” noted a press release from the attorney general’s office Friday.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
- For tips on avoiding internet scams and schemes, visit the Division of Consumer Affairs’ website.
- For advice on how to protect against hackers and data thieves while working from home, visit the New Jersey Cybersecurity Communications and Integration Cell’s Telecommuting Tips.
- For information on addressing risks associated with virtual education and online learning, visit the NCCIC’s Navigating New Challenges This Academic School Year.