How to Protect Yourself From Scams and Fraud Online

Online fraud and scams are on the increase, and it is safe to say they won’t stop anytime soon. According to a recent study, one in ten adults in the US is expected to fall victim to a scam each year. Note that this figure only accounts for victims and not the number of online scam attempts.

The most popular channel where these scams occur is social media. This is because we are often unsuspecting on social media, as it is believed we are only surrounded by friends and family members. This suggestion is buoyed by a stat that social media enabled cybercrimes to generate over $3.25 billion annually.

Criminals who are aware of how lucrative cybercrime is can develop new and innovative ways to defraud people. For this reason, you must brush up your knowledge about these tricks not to fall victim to the whims and caprices of these fraudsters.

Here are some helpful tips that can help you stay ahead of online scams and fraud.

Be Careful With Suspicious Emails and Attachments

Needless to say, you should never open attachments or emails sent from untrusted sources. This is one of the oldest tricks used by online defrauders, yet, it remains quite effective. Before downloading or opening a mail attachment, you should pay due attention to the file’s extension.

Also, take caution when opening an official-looking mail from a company you’ve transacted with in the past. This is particularly important when you are required to login to review an account. Even if the mail seems legit, it is a safe practice to go through the company’s URL on your browser rather than a link in the mail. This is because only very few companies will ever mail you to review an account or click a link.

Identify Phishing Attempts

Phishing attacks are aimed at urging individuals to fill in personal information to get access to offers, discounts, and promos. Spear phishing is an even more targeted attack at individuals whose data might have leaked from various organizations. Whichever the case, one gainful skill is a certain level of skepticism when it comes to links sent via the internet.

When provided forms to fill by business and organizations, fill out only essential data, and leave the rest blank. Even if the organization is legit, do not give out personal information until you are sure about the intent of the request. This form of scam has grown by 7% over the past three years.

Always Use HTTPS

Websites starting with https:// are considered safe as they have an SSL certificate. Consequently, the data shared between the server and the browser is encrypted and can hardly be intercepted. While this is not entirely foolproof, it is a much more secure way of roaming the internet.

Make sure all the sites you visit are SSL secured. This is the only way to be sure that you are interacting with the right sites. When browsing, check to see if there is a green box or lock located next to the website’s URL. If there is, then it is secure. If not, try visiting the website by adding https:// in front and see if it works.

Update Your Anti-Malware Software

You can never be too cautious. Hence, let your anti-malware do a bit of the work for you. In contrast to anti-viruses, anti-malware fish out malicious software aimed at stealing personal information, account passwords, etc. Anti-viruses, on the other hand, are only aimed at picking out viruses that can corrupt the running of the system.

Once you install anti-malware, you must keep it updated. This is because outdated anti-malware or anti-virus software is as good as absent. These days, there is no reason not to have an anti-malware installed on your system with the number of online resources available.

Software like Microsoft Windows Essentials on PC or the ClamXAV on Macbook does not use much of the system resources and can scan an update in the background.

Bottom Line

Internet skepticism will help you get past many scam and phishing attempts unscathed. It is more sensible and, in many ways, safer to call your bank when they need your credit card details as opposed to just replying to a mail requesting the same.

Another golden rule is not to succumb to offers and discounts when they look too good to be true.

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