Avoid Online Scams

Avoid Scams

As the technology evolves, so do the schemes that crooks come up with. It is increasingly relevant to know what are the most frequently used tricks and scams that take advantage of your trust. Here are 4 recommendations that help you be more aware of the dangers in the online world.

1. Use caution when shopping online.

Stay away from websites with poor design and lots of popup windows – it is a sign of potentially fraudulent activity.  Use your intuition to guide you through the millions of online sellers. It is usually safer to favor well-known big name online retailers that have built a trustworthy reputation.

Also be mindful of the type of information the online store asks from you. You should never be asked to enter your social security number while shopping online. If that happens, leave the online shop immediately.

Use a credit card and not a debit card for your online transactions. If you happen to be the victim of a fraud, credit card payments can be disputed and you can get your money back. If you use a debit card, there is no option for a dispute and your money will be gone.

Read the fine print to see details such as the shipping fees, delivery time, and cancellation policies. The more informed you are, the less likely you will be the victim of online shopping fraud.

2. Know the symptoms of a scam email

Scam emails usually come with some telltale signs. Once you know what to look for, you will be out of the scammers’ reach.

One of the first things to check is the sender’s email address. If their email address is not associated with their organization, there might be a problem. For example, if you get an email from your bank and the email address does not contain the bank’s name, it’s most likely a scam. Contact the company directly and find out if they are behind the email.

Be mindful of emails that contain misspellings and grammatical errors. Reputable companies never send out emails without double checking the content for errors. Pay especially close attention to the company name – scammers often change one letter of a well-known brand and claim it as theirs.

Oftentimes scam emails try to scare you into giving up your personal details. The email can state that your account will be closed if you do not act immediately. Recognizing this false sense of urgency is an important part of avoiding email scams.

“You have inherited/won $1,000,000!” – if you find this phrase in your inbox, you have most definitely received a scam email. In this case, scammers ask for your bank details to send your money. Or they might ask you to pay taxes on your winnings – don’t. Once they have your bank details, they take your money instead of sending it. Never respond to emails that promise huge lumps of cash, they are invariably deceitful.

Whenever you suspect that an imposter has sent you an email, contact the company they claim to be from directly. That will greatly reduce your chances of becoming a fraud victim.

3. Use strong passwords

You might be tempted to use Password1 for all your logins, but that would leave you vulnerable to hackers.If you have multiple online bank accounts, use a different password for each login. If somebody gets a hold of one, your other accounts will still be protected.Make sure that your passwords are strong and difficult to guess.

Avoid using your name, date of birth or other pieces of information that are easy to guess. Whenever possible, add special characters, numbers and a mix of lower and upper case characters in your password. It will keep your accounts safer and better protected against hackers.

Always make sure that you are not on a fraudulent site before you enter your password.

4. Recognize Tech Support Scams

Tech scammers often offer “free” virus scans or send you bogus messages claiming that your computer is infected.  Their goal is to sell you software that is worthless, or even worse, try to infect your computer with malware. Malware is a piece of software that gives crooks access to your computer and your personal information. Criminals of this nature may also try calling you to sell you their sham software. Never give out your credit card number if you happen to receive such a call. If they start pressuring you, simply hang up the phone.

Tech support scammers might also ask for your password to access your computer and install the scam software. No legitimate company would ever ask for your password. Never give out your passwords over the phone or in an email.

If you need help regarding your computer’s safety, contact your software security company directly. They will be able to protect you and your computer.

By incorporating these guidelines into your online habits, you will be much more protected while surfing the World Wide Web. Let your common sense guide you while making online purchases, connecting with friends and sending emails. Once you are aware of the various online deceits, you can make better decisions and stay safe.

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