The internet offers a wide world of benefits. It makes sending and receiving information easier than ever before. But like most things in life, it is not perfect. Thieves use the internet to try to steal your information. Often this involves scams called ‘phishing’ and ‘spoofing’. Phishing (FISH-ing) is when an online scammer reproduces the appearance of a legitimate website in order to trick the victim into entering sensitive data. Spoofing is when a fraudulent email sender hopes to have you respond to an email that is made to look as if it is from a legitimate company.
Combinations of spoofing and phishing may make a convincing lie that can easily make you a victim. Here are 6 scam-savvy tips for avoiding online traps:
- Check the Web Address (or URL) Communications from popular social websites, online payment processors, or IT administrators are commonly used to lure in the unsuspecting public. The web address for the phishing site may closely resemble the authentic website. It may even contain the address of the authentic website, but also includes code to reroute the traffic to a false website.
- Stay alert and skeptical of people unexpectedly contacting you by email or phone and asking about personal information. Only open emails, links, and attachments from trustworthy sources.
- Know who your providers are for your hosting, email, and internet. Also know how these providers will be contacting you.
- Protect your computer with spam filters, anti-virus software, and firewalls. For optimal protection, make sure to keep these programs up to date.
- Act immediately if you think you have been a victim of an online scam. If you have provided account numbers, PINS, or passwords to an unidentified source, notify the companies that you have accounts with right away.
Be sure to help your fellow internet users by reporting any suspected scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.