Every year there are millions of cases of internet fraud in the U.S. and around the world. Scam artists use just about any means of communication to do so like phone, email, postal mail and social media. It can be hard to tell what’s legitimate and what’s a scam, since there are many different types of internet fraud.
A common type of fraud is called “phishing.” Phishing is one of the most popular means of fraud by internet con artists. Disguised mainly through the form of email, these hackers claim to be someone from a major company such as banks, doctor’s offices, or even social media websites. The email instructs victims to release their personal information by responding directly to the email or by entering it on a malicious website. Sometimes they even go straight to the point and ask you for money.
How do you avoid it?
Start by securing your email. Most email platforms have the ability to filter out unwanted or spam related messages. Phishers also like to use scare tactics. Don’t let that pressure you into responding. When in doubt, call the company. They’ll be able to verify if they’ve attempted to contact you and reach out for personal information. And as always, keep your computer software up to date. Invest in software protection that companies like McAfee and Norton provide.
Like mentioned before, it would be smart to invest in an Anti-virus software that automatically monitors your devices for suspicious activity. Malware is short for “malicious software” and it includes viruses and spyware that gets automatically installed on your computer, phone, or mobile device without your permission. Malware can crash your device and can also be used to monitor your online activity. That includes any personal information you have stored on your device. Some signs that your computer might be infected would be a noticeable change in your devices speed, the inability to shut down or restart your device, excessive amounts of pop-ups, and interference with your email account, home page, toolbar, and desktop. But buying proper protection for your device is the best way to prevent this from happening. Norton offers protection for laptops, computers, tablets, and smartphones.
No matter what kind of fraud it is, remember these tips to help keep your information safe:
- Avoid suspicious websites. If a website has multiple pop-ups, ads, or poor design, chances are it isn’t the most secure website. Stick to more familiar websites like PayPal and Amazon when dealing with online transactions.
- Monitor your bank statements. Keep an eye out for suspicious purchases or hidden purchases. Now days, banks will do that for you. If banks notice an out of character purchase, they’ll alert you.
- Use strong passwords. Using a long and numeric password is usually the safest. Some websites even require you to have a more complex password for more security. Instead of Password123, try something like Pass1WorD2. Having uppercase and lowercase letters adds more security. It’s also recommended that for important accounts containing personal information that you change your password every 60 days.
- Don’t talk to strangers. Fraudsters sometimes prey on people over social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. If you have social media accounts, make sure they’re secure and only your friends can see what you’re sharing. Also, do not share personal information over these sites. Things like your address and phone number shouldn’t be on there.
- If you see fraud, report it. There are many resources online to help you prevent and report fraud. FBI.gov, usa.gov, ic3.gov, and stopfraud.gov are all great websites to start with.