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Playing It Safe Online

Are cyber criminals making you a victim?

Nashville, Ark. – If Covid-19 has taught us one thing, it is how to use the internet more. Online purchases, working from home, connecting with friends and family, managing our finances, and more has increased since March. While we are using the internet more to complete daily tasks, it is more important than ever to protect ourselves from cyber criminals.

            According to recent findings, cybercriminals are taking the opportunity to prey on unsuspecting people by extracting personal and financial information. During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, now is a good time to rethink your internet practices to protect your personal information while you’re online. It seems that during times of national hardship, cyber criminals increase their fraudulent activities. It is important to always be vigilant against potential online scams, including phishing and malware, now more than ever.

            Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of these scams:

  • Don’t reveal personal or financial information in an email. If you receive an email asking for personal information, delete it. Do not open it. Just trash it.
  • Pay attention to the website’s URL. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL (address) may use a variation in spelling. Cyber criminals are impersonating organizations such as WHO, CDC, and other reputable sources. Don’t click on these requests. Go directly to the organizations website to access their content.
  • Keep a clean machine. Keep all software on internet-connected devices – including PCs, smartphone, and tablets – up to date to reduce the risk of infection. Make sure you are running the most current versions of software. It will improve the performance and security of your device.
  • Lock your device. Lock your computer, smartphone, or tablet just as you lock your front door or car door. Use a passcode or fingerprint to lock your phone or tablet. Use strong passwords on accounts and change them regularly. A strong password is at least 12 characters strong and uses a combination of symbols, capital and lowercase letters, and numbers. Keep passwords in a safe location.
  • Use multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication uses a unique one-time code sent to your phone or mobile device each time you log in.
  • Keep devices with you. If possible, always keep your devices with you or stored in a secure location when not in use. Log-out or use auto log-out when you walk away from your computer.
  • Limit access to the device you use for work. If you are working from home limit who uses your device. Only the approved user should use the device, not family members or friends.
  • Be suspicious. If someone contacts you and asks you to pay by a wire transfer or gift card, be wary.
  • Share with care. Limit how much personal information you share online. This is especially true of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Only accept friend requests from people you know.

Cyber criminals are smart. Protect yourself. If you do suspect of being a victim of cybercrime, contact the NCSA at You should report any scams to or 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Information for this article was adapted from the National Cyber Security Alliance. For more information on scams or consumer interests, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or your Attorney General.

The Howard County Extension Service provides educational information on consumer and financial information. You can visit their office located on the second floor of the courthouse. You can also check out the website

Recipe of the Week

            Deb Kreul, Howard County 4-H Program Assistant and a member of the Twilight EHC Club shared this recipe. Everyone who tasted these cookies agreed they were delicious!


Potato Chip Cookies

1 cup softened butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups potato chips, broken

2 cups chocolate chips

            Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter sugar, and brown sugar. Mix in eggs, flour, salt, baking soda, and vanilla until combined. Stir in potato chips and chocolate chips. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

            Roll into balls and place them on a non-stick baking sheet or a baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for about 11 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown around the edges.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.