Monday, January 14, 2019

A Simple Guide to Avoiding Common Internet Scams

In today's day and age, the internet is something we simply cannot do without. After all, it has such a wide world of benefits to offer.    
Much like every other thing in life though, the internet is far from perfect. Just as it helps us makes our life smoother, it also acts as a ground for thieves who try to steal personal and sensitive information. This often includes scams such as phishing, which can - and does - cause great loss to individuals and companies.

As a well-experienced online marketing company in the US, we hear about and see many examples of risky situation that can easily be avoid. We know by being alert and following some simple rules, however, you can stay away from some of these online scams with ease.

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The following are some common tips that will help you stay away from online traps:

#1: Never give financial information to anyone

Many scammers are known to reach out to unsuspecting individuals via email, text or even phone calls and manipulate them into revealing their personal and financial information. This is a commonly-used scam known as phishing, where the scammers pose as an institution, service or even a government agency, and try to trick you into revealing sensitive financial information. For example, a thief may try to obtain private information such as your Social Security Number or Credit Card Number by [falsely] claiming that your account has been compromised or that it needs to be updated.

Always keep in mind that institutions like Google will not call you personally asking for your personal information. If you get from someone claiming to be a representative of your bank or credit card company, keep in mind that you have the right the verify their identity before releasing private or sensitive information. So, in case you receive a suspicious call or email that request a release your personal information, do not respond and instead contact the relevant institution directly to verify your account status. The representative or automated system will still want to verify your identity with some questions and that should be okay knowing that you are speaking to the right people.

#2: Never click on unknown email hyperlinks

Many scammers reach out to people by sending meticulously composed, but nonetheless fake, emails which offer "services" or “prizes” that can be claimed by clicking the hyperlink/opening the attachment and submitting the users' financial information. This is another common scam called pharming. You must, therefore, make it a point to NEVER respond to such emails, even if they look legitimate or appear to have come from your credit card company or your bank. In the event that you do receive an email from an unknown or untrusted address, you must delete it immediately.

It is worth mentioning that is possible for the email addresses (that you trust) of friends, family, and even co-workers to be hacked and used to send out malicious links. If an email from a contact seem suspicious in anyway, we recommend using this as an opportunity to reach out to the person by phone and confirm the email was in fact sent by them.

#3: Use varied passwords that are tough-to-crack

Tempting as it might be, a password like “Fluffy” or "98765" is basically an invitation for hackers to compromise your accounts. You must always make sure that the password that you use is a strong one. A strong password should be at least 10 characters long and must have upper and lower case letters, numbers as well as special characters.

It is recommended that passwords be a play on a question/answer and/or long phrases. An example of this is “d03$uRdoGluV*U2?^4deBAit” which when read as a question and answer would be, Does your dog love you too? Up for debate. Furthermore, you should also make sure to use unique password for every website that you visit. No two should be alike.

Watch computer professional and former Central Intelligence Agency employee and contractor, Edward Snowden, discuss passwords and “passphrases” on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Some of the content in this video may not be suitable for young audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

#4: Install a good antivirus software that offers spyware and malware protection

Installing a good-quality antivirus will help you protect all the sensitive information stored on your computer. Ensure that your antivirus offers adequate firewall and spyware protection, and make sure to turn on the auto-updating feature once you install the program to keep the software updated at all times. (Be aware that some software updates include new or changed privacy settings which you will want to review and manage accordingly.)

#5: Never download software you see on pop-up windows

We are all aware of those pesky pop-up windows which claim that our computer "is unsafe," or something of that nature, and offer their own software to "remedy the problem." If you click these pop-up links to start the “system scan,” you might just end up downloading malicious software or “malware” which could damage your operating system.

#6: Always ensure that you're visiting safe websites

Make sure that the website where you will be submitting your financial information has its security settings in place. Make sure to double-check the privacy rules and see to it that it is using encryption. Encryption is symbolized by a "lock" present on the left of the web address; if you see this lock, it means that any information you enter is encrypted safely and is well-protected against hackers.

By following the tips above, you should be able to safeguard yourself and your business from the most scammers and fraudsters. However, with every new advancement in consumer information protection comes a new trick from the bad guys. For that reason, you encourage you to stay educated, stay wary and do your best to stay safe.

Is your website safe? Are you not sure but want to be? If you desire a well-designed, high-ranking, user-friendly and safe website, contact us today. Our expert team of web developers and web designers is ready to build your dream website while ensuring all protections are in place to keep you and your site visitors safe. Click here to fill out a contact form or call (855) 785-3232 to speak directly to our head representative and company owner, Ricky.