The Washington Police Department receives reports of online scams, identity theft, or phishing almost weekly, so they are urging residents to take steps to protect online information and those who could fall prey to predators during Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Washington Police Chief Jim Lester says the internet can be enjoyed for connecting with friends on social media or playing online games, but the public should make sure not to share passwords and be cautious of online posts or games that ask for personal information that could be used as security questions for password retrieval. Lester says they’ve also seen residents lose thousands of dollars from phishing, which is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to get people to reveal personal information like passwords and credit card numbers. Lester says if you believe you are at risk of a scam to contact law enforcement, “Anyone who has suffered a financial loss to any scam or scheme, report that. If your children have been asked to send messages or received images, or has had an adult ask them to meet them online somewhere. We also encourage them to also contact law enforcement. They can also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at cybertipline.com.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency advises that if you get an email from someone you’re not sure of, do not reply to that email and do not click on any links or attachments included as they could be an attempt to infect your computer with malware to make you more vulnerable to an attack. You can find more cyber security safety tips by visiting here.