Unfortunately there are many hackers, scammers and ID thieves these days online and there are several ways you can be aware of these and avoid losing your personal information.
In order to protect yourself against these online crooks there are savvy internet technicians that have figured out ways and have techniques in preventing these dishonest identity thieves from getting into your computer and stealing your valuable personal information.
Here are 15 Ways to Protect Yourself from Online Cons and Scams:
1 – ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE: Installing anti-virus software and making sure you maintain and update that software which will scan your computer on a regular basis for viruses. Most can also check incoming mail for viruses. There are new viruses that get discovered on a daily basis, so make sure you check the anti-virus website on a weekly basis for updates.
2 – SUSPICIOUS EMAIL: There are sometimes unknown emails that you may receive. Do not open those as they may contain socially engineered viruses and worms. You may even get tricked into participating in the scam without knowing it. Many will make it look like the virus came from another source and that your computer got infected elsewhere. Delete an email whose address you do not recognize without opening it. If the email is coming from someone you know, make sure you look at the attachments carefully prior to downloading them to your computer. It is important to note that the English and grammar used on computer worms and viruses is usually very poor. Always make sure you are 100% sure you know the source of the attachment prior to opening or downloading it.
3 – VULNERABLE COMPUTERS: Keep your computer from becoming the source for scammers. For example an operating system like Windows or a web browser may become attached to a hacker site and in that case they will be able to exploit and obtain access to your computer and start manipulating and controlling your computer to their advantage. Go to your vendors website periodically and read the support material.
4- UPDATE APPLICATIONS: Patching software is a type of software that is designed to fix and update a computer program and its supporting data. Included are fixing security vulnerabilities and bugs, as well as improving performance and usability. Such applications as Adobe, Acrobat and Flash should be checked on a regular basis as malware can enter into these applications that are susceptible to attack. Get weekly updates on these apps by setting a weekly reminder alarm on your computer or phone.
5 – MALWARE SOFTWARE UPDATE: Your scanner will not be able to detect the threats that are out there if you do not update your Malware software on a customary basis. Your subscriptions should be current to the malware software. Check the date of the last update to make sure you are covered from outside vulnerabilities. You can even run these programs on your computer overnight.
6 – SECOND OPINION SCANNER: You many want to think about getting a second option to defend yourself from cons and scams by installing a Second Opinion Scanner. This is in case your original scanner is hacked into without you knowing about it. A Second Opinion Scanner is used to scan for malware as a backup to your original scanner.
7 – SOCIAL MEDIA: The social media world is a great place for scammers to go to. There are many apps and messages that are disguised as “bait pages” where you are asked to go and watch a video. Sometimes you are asked to “like” an app which may spam all of your friends. Watch out for giving out any information regarding your personal status or opinions online.
8 – SURVEYS SCAMS: There are many online surveys that may be credible, but you need to also be mindful that there are some surveys that are created to look legitimate, but who want to get your personal information without you even knowing about it, including your address, name and other personal information. Do not get tricked into filling out pertinent information for a survey if the source is unknown to you.
9 – CREDIT CARD SCAMS: Always make sure you call the bank or credit card company which you are trying to access. Check your account statement in detail when you receive it. Do not respond to emails that request your bank account information or social security number. If you find an amount that has been charged to your credit card that you do not recognize, immediately contact your credit card company and let them do the investigating.
10 – SEMINAR SCAMS: Seminars are usually where people meet to find opportunities for networking or gaining information that is necessary for their business. Always respond to seminars that are legally registered. Do your homework and go online and look up that real-estate company, mutual funds or reverse mortgage seminar ad inviting you to go online and sign up before you fill in any applications.
11 – MEDICAL PLAN SCAMS: Your insurance company has a number they give out for you to contact them when you have a medical problem or if you want to pay a bill. Make sure you get that number and double check to see if the person contacting you is legitimate. Some scammers offer great medical discounts and will ask for lots of personal information before they let you know what it is they are offering. Be aware of who is on the other line before you release your credit card or other significant information.
12 – AUTO REPAIR SCAMS: Beware not to get ripped off from mechanics that call you or send emails offering FREE oil change or repairs, especially if it is an auto company you have never used before. Try to contact the number and find out if this is a legitimate offer. Usually auto repair companies place coupons in catalogs or give them out at the store location. Contact the Better Business Bureau to check out the name of the company that sent you that online offer to see if it is a valid entity. If the mechanic states that he will waive the deductible for an insurance-financed repair, be very wary.
13 – COUPON SCAMS: One of the biggest scams that take place is coupon scams. When you receive a coupon for a large dollar amount be careful, as manufacturers don’t usually give off such large discounts on their products unless you have complained directly and they want to get your business back. If you receive a $6 online coupon to redeem for a box of diapers, pet food, infant formula, coffee or even a restaurant meal, do not accept it and delete the email from your inbox.
14 – INVESTMENT IN GOLD: Sometimes telemarketers approach senior citizens offering them gold, silver, platinum, coins or bullion for a deal and as a low-risk investment. They use high-pressure scam tactics to get their point across and make the elderly feel vulnerable and afraid if they do not accept the offer. When you receive a call for such offers do not debate with the caller, simply hang up. If you are interested in such investments make an appointment with your bank and go in person to meet with a financial adviser.
15 – SWEEPSTAKES SCAM: People see others getting rich on TV by means of sweepstakes and that’s why it is so easy to fall for a call from a scammer that is telling you that you just won the sweepstakes prize of the month! These types of scams are very popular and also very deceiving. To protect you from such scams remember never to pay lottery-win fees. A legitimate sweepstakes company will not require a winner to pay insurance, tax, shipping and handling or any other fee.
CONCLUSION: If there is any doubt regarding the source of information from an online offer with which you are not familiar and that may seem odd to you, always do your research and contact as many sources to double check the name and company that is soliciting you before you give out any information at all about yourself, your spouse, child or parent. You must protect yourself.