An online predator

An online predator is an internet user who exploits* people, usually for sexual or financial purposes.

Online predators think of others as prey. They try to trick young people into meeting with them face to face so they can harm them. They can also try to trick people into giving them their personal information so they can steal from them.

Predators will use chat rooms, peer to peer forums, and IM to find victims+. They will try to get their victims to trust them by acting like they care about the same things. Often they will bring up sexual topics and/or send pictures to their victims before asking to meet with them face to face.

* exploit - to take advantage of unfairly

+ victim - one who is harmed by another


  • When someone threatens you or asks for too much information, talk to your parents, a teacher or the local police.
  • Chat with people you know from the real world, from school, band, community groups, your family.
  • Keep PII (what adults call personally identifiable information) private. That's your name, school, social security number, address, age, birthday, phone number and family or friends names to yourself.
  • Make sure your screen name doesn't say too much, don't include stuff like your name, age or hobbies that predators can use.

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If anyone you don't know asks you or a friend for personal information, photos or videos, tell an adult you trust and report it to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's CyberTipline. Reports may be made 24-hours a day, 7 days a week online at or by calling 1-800-843-5678.