News from the desk of Sheriff Potter

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“Rising Internet Crimes: Tips for Staying Safe in the Digital Age”
 
Dear DeSoto County,
 
In our rapidly evolving digital age, the internet and social media have become integral to our daily lives, connecting us with loved ones, providing information and fostering community bonds. However, these technological advancements also come with significant risks that we must address together.
 
Rising Threat of Internet Crimes
Recent statistics reveal a concerning increase in internet crimes, including online scams, cyberbullying, and other malicious activities. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported a record 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime in 2022, with reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion. Alarmingly, our youth are often targeted, making it essential to prioritize internet safety education for children and teens.
 
DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office and the ICAC Task Force
Several members of DCSO proudly participate in the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC). This national network of law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting individuals who exploit children online. Through ICAC, we are committed to promoting safe internet and social media use, especially for our younger community members.
 
Safety Tips for Parents and Guardians
Parents and guardians play a crucial role in safeguarding their children's online experiences. Here are some essential tips to help protect your children:
  1. Open Communication: Regularly discuss internet safety with your children. Encourage them to share their online experiences and address any concerns they may have.
  2. Education: Teach children about the dangers of sharing personal information online and the risks of interacting with strangers.
  3. Supervision: Monitor your child's internet use and be aware of the websites and apps they are accessing.
  4. Parental Controls: Utilize parental control software to restrict access to inappropriate content and set time limits on internet usage.
 
Protecting Yourself Online
It's not just children who are at risk; adults must also remain vigilant against cyber threats. Here are some practical steps to enhance your online security:
  1. Secure Passwords: Regularly update your passwords, ensuring they are strong and unique.
  2. Beware of Phishing: Be cautious of emails or messages from unknown sources asking for personal or financial information.
  3. Privacy Settings: Adjust privacy settings on social media accounts to control who can see your information.
  4. Report Suspicious Activity: Promptly report any suspicious online activity to the DCSO, 863-993-4700, to help protect our digital community.
 
Responsible Social Media Use
Social media platforms are powerful tools for communication, but they require responsible use. Remember, once something is posted online, it can remain there indefinitely and potentially impact your personal and professional life. We advise you to always think before you post.
 
Community Outreach and Education
At DCSO, we are dedicated to fostering digital safety through educational and community outreach programs. These initiatives aim to equip our community with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the online world safely. We encourage you to participate in these programs and stay informed about best practices for internet safety.

Join Us in Promoting a Safe Digital Environment
We urge everyone to help us promote a safe and secure digital environment. By staying informed and implementing responsible internet and social media practices, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from potential harm.

Be Kind, Be Safe, God Bless.

Sheriff James Potter