Cyber Mum – Pokemon GO Scam Alert

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“You know you’re doing something right, when your twelve year old son calls you to the computer, to show you the Pokemon Go scams already circulating online.”

My son is pretty computer savy (he probably gets this from his dad, more than his mum). But what he does get from me is an eye for “ALL IS NOT AS IT SEEMS”, and recently he introduced me to the world of Pokemon Go trading scams.

The majority of the online scams were websites posing as trading sites and asking you for personal information, credit card details, email address etc. All of the sites we reviewed together were scammers posing as Pokemon Go fans trying to rip you or your kids off, or potentially putting your computer at risk, as their intention is to send you spam and virus infected emails.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Pokemon Go is a bad app, but like anything new there will always be people trying to capitalise on its popularity. So be sure to look out for scammers and warn your kids, who in the excitement that is Pokemon Go, might just innocently fall for the tricks one of these scammer use.

I actually think Pokemon Go is heaps of fun and love seeing so many people out and about walking and enjoying the outdoors.  But like with any app, it can pose significant risks, like the scams above. But it is also worth considering some of the following tips when you or your kids are playing:

  • Depending on your child’s age, play Pokemon Go with them, particularly if they are under the age of 13.
  • Be cautious of Pokestops and Lures. A Lure is an item than can lure Pokemon to a location. Other people, as in strangers you or your kids don’t know, can also attend the location, bringing with them an element of stranger danger.
  • Have the stranger danger conversation with your kids again … and again.
  • Remind your kids and yourself to pay attention to your surroundings and play in grounds to minimise the risks.
  • Watch your data usage, or your child’s data usage. I’m forecasting there will be a few parents getting a rude shock when the phone bill comes in next month.
  • Watch your phone’s battery life, as Pokemon Go drains the battery fast.
  • There are in app purchases, so don’t forget to chat to your child about the consequences if they have access to an iTunes account.
  • Whilst there is no chat room, usernames do appear if you or your child is in a gym. As you or your child have to be physically near the gym to battle, it’s a good idea to choose your child’s username carefully, so your child cannot be identified.
  • Remind your child they don’t have to walk to a Pokemon’s exact location to capture it.  As long as it appears on the camera screen, you can capture it.
  • The game does have very strong addictive potential, and children are more susceptible to its additive nature.

 Helpful hint: you can track your child’s activity on the app by clicking on the journal icon, as it keeps a log of all activity.

My biggest advice is to talk and engage with your kids about Pokemon Go, or any other game or app they play. Not only will you learn and find common ground, but it also sends a clear message to your child that you are interested. That way if there is an issue, they will feel confident they can discuss it with you.

Cyber Mum.

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