Miami computer crimes and holiday season often go hand-in-hand

Our Miami computer crimes attorneys have reported here before on the risk of being charged or victimized by cyber crime and that risk can be particularly acute after the holidays. In many cases, consumers may find unrecognized charges on their credit or debit accounts. Or they may have not received the promised goods from an Internet purchase or auction.

In still other cases, a new computer in the house can pose a security risk if not properly protected.

As we reported last year on our Miami Criminal Attorney Blog, more Internet crimes originate in Florida than anywhere else in the nation except California. In 2009, almost 30 percent of the nation’s Internet crimes originated in Florida. The nationwide cost of computer fraud was estimated at $560 million. And the number of crimes has exploded with the popularity of using the Internet for shopping. The Internet Crimes Complaint Center reported 336,655 crimes, compared to fewer than 20,000 a decade ago.

The Miami Herald recently published a series of tips for new computer users or for those who received a new computer over the holidays:

-Use anti-virus software and keep it updated. Be suspicious of any unwanted e-mail attachments. The best thing to do is to delete the entire message.

-Use firewalls: To protect your computer against Internet intruders while you are protected to the Internet.

-Use hard-to-guess passwords: Use a mix of upper- and lower-case letters and symbols. Make your password at least eight characters long.

-Disconnect your computer from Internet when not in use.

-Review security regularly: Evaluate your computer’s risks at least twice a year. Do it when the clocks change and you put batteries in the smoke detectors.

-Back up data regularly and save in separate location.

-Monitor a child’s behavior online and keep a child’s computer in a location where you can see it.

More information on Internet safety is available through the National Crime Prevention Council.