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10 Instant Messaging Safety Tips @ Microsoft Security:
1. Never open pictures, download files, or click links in messages from people you don't know.
2. Be careful when you create a screen name.
3. Create a barrier against unwanted instant messaging.
4. Never provide sensitive personal information, such as your credit card numbers or passwords, in an IM conversation.
5. Block unwanted messages.
6. If you decide to meet a stranger that you know only from IM communication, take appropriate safety precautions.
7. Don't send personal or private instant messages at work.
8. If you use a public computer, do not log on automatically.
9. When you're not available to receive messages, be careful how you display this information to other users.
10. Monitor and limit your children's use of IM.