How to protect against Online Scams

Tutorial on how to protect yourself against Online Fraud

If there is one thing people do not like, it is being taken advantage of, especially when it results in the loss of money. Online scammers are becoming more creative in their ways of manipulating people and cheating them out of money and sometimes their personal details as well. They are also becoming increasingly difficult to catch and harder still is retrieving the stolen money.

Scammers can target anyone, regardless of age, background or income. Most stories you may hear regarding scammers feature old or otherwise lonely people as the victims, but do not become complacent. You could just as easily become the target as the next person. There are no particular demographics who are more susceptible to scammers than others. A scam succeeds when the victim is convinced that it is genuine

So, what are the best ways to protect yourself against becoming a victim of an online scam in the first place? It may seem obvious, but the first thing you ought to do is remain aware of the existence of scams, especially if you receive any unexpected emails or calls from individuals or businesses trying to sell you products. The golden rule when it comes to avoiding scams is if it looks too good to be true, it usually is. If you are uncertain of how genuine a particular person or business is, do some research into them.

See if you can find any reviews from people who have done business with them before. Should you receive contact from a friend that seems suspicious or out of character, contact them to see if it was them who sent it. If you should receive any strange texts, unwanted pop-up windows or e-mail attachments, do not open them under any circumstances. Delete them immediately. Consider looking their details up in an online search or through a phone book. If there are contact details included in the suspicious message, do not use them.

It is vitally important to keep your personal details safe and secure at all times. If you receive paper-based bills, shred them before putting them in the bin. Do not share your online passwords and pin numbers with anyone. In the case of passwords, make them as unique as you can and include a string of different letters, numbers, cases and symbols to make it harder to identify.

Make sure you commit it to memory as soon as possible and keep it in a safe, secure place until then. Don’t repeat the same password for each of your accounts. Try to have a unique password for each account. When using social media sites, use caution when sharing personal information with people.

Not only can scammers use your information to target you, they can also use your data to create a fake profile and scam others. In a similar way, take every step necessary to ensure the security of both your computer and your mobile device. Use password protection, for example, and make sure your antivirus software is always up to date and that you run scans regularly.

Make sure all your content is backed up so that you will have a replacement copy to hand if something happens to it. When out and about, refrain from using internet cafes and areas with WiFi to access your bank account online or to give out personal information.

Make sure you install a firewall on your computer in addition to the latest antivirus software. This is a security device that monitors all network traffic and permits or blocks certain types of data in accordance with a set of security rules. You should always ensure that your browser’s security and monitoring are set at the highest level. This will prevent both malware related issues and hackers from accessing your computer.

If it is possible to do so, you should also enable two-factor authentication on your computer. This requires you to provide at least two pieces of separate evidence before you are granted access to an app or a website. It is commonly known as 2FA.

Be wary of requests for money and never send money, however large or small an amount, to anyone you don’t know. Nor should you agree to transfer money or items for a third party as this could constitute money laundering, which is a criminal offence. Be wary also of being asked to pay for things using unusual payment methods which scammers tend to favour, such as using virtual currencies like Bitcoin, iTunes cards and gift cards.

Remember that many scams begin with a phishing e-mail that is intended to steal your data. You can protect against this by remembering that banks and other financial institutions will never contact you to ask you to click on a link and confirm your details.

Regardless of how genuine they may seem, if you receive an email like this, it is a scam. Do not click on it. If you feel the need to, contact your bank over the phone or via their website to confirm this. Email addresses and phone numbers can be falsified, so don’t use them as a means of determining whether or not a message or call is genuine.

Whenever you are shopping online, always sign up to Verified by Visa or Mastercard Secure Code if they are offered to you. This will enable you to register your password with your card provider and includes an extra layer of security to your online transactions.

The internet is full of online scams which can appear at any time. If you suspect you have received one, it is essential that you do not open or respond to it, but delete it immediately. The Internet is a wonderful place, but you should always be on your guard, especially where your personal details are concerned. Scammers are always looking for new and creative ways of obtaining money illegally and this is why you should always do your research and use your judgement before taking up an offer that seems too good to be true.


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