How to Avoid Online Fraud: Part Two of Three
Online fraud is a constant threat as we traverse the Internet. While the best way to avoid harm is to stay off the Internet completely, that is nearly impossible and totally unreasonable in 2011. This is Part Two, then, in a series of how to beat online fraud. The first part can be read here.
The Scam: These types of scams typically target the elderly, or other people who are not familiar with Internet scams. Emails are sent to a large number of addresses, with a well-formatted HTML message. The email is created to look like it came from a bank or similar financial institution, sometimes even copying the banks actual format verbatim.
The email instructs the reader to click on a link to go to the company’s website and re-submit their login information or other personal information, because of an error on the bank’s part. However, the site they are sent to is actually a mirror of the real website, and the targets are handing over their personal information directly to the thieves. Armed with this information, the thieves empty bank accounts and steal the person’s identity, creating a complete disaster for the user.
How to Protect Yourself: No legitimate company will ever ask you for your personal information in an email, period. They certainly will not need your login details. If you ever receive an email asking for personal information, trash it immediately and call the company that supposedly sent the email.
The Scam: You will often see “chain mail” type posts circulating through Facebook. These are often a still shot from a video, with a shocking headline such as, “You’ll never believe what this girl had in her skin!” True Facebook shared videos can be played right from the Home screen, but you must click on the scam video image to go to a new site.
Once the user clicks the spam video, there is typically no video at all. Instead, the user is sent to a site that is unrelated, and the user’s computer is usually infected with malware. The video also gets sent to everyone in the profile of the user who clicked the link. Facebook has been slow to stop these attacks, and there seem to be new schemes every few weeks.
How to Protect Yourself: If a link looks like spam, don’t click it. It likely is, and your machine may become infected with malware, which leads to popups and annoying viruses. If you are instructed to install anything, don’t! This is always spyware or some other type of malware.
If someone were to walk up to you on the street and ask you for your personal information, or access to your computer, you would obviously say no. So, don’t say yes online! Always keep in mind that if it looks and smells fishy, it’s probably a phish! Remember, many attempts at data theft can be thwarted by using a personal password manager. There are many new cyber security degree programs sprouting up across the world as the demand soars. In time, these attacks will be less common as new laws are enacted to protect Internet users. But until then, protect yourself and your data!
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as always, be safe Online
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