The threat of Internet fraud is quite real and we need to be aware of scams such as “phishing” and “pharming” where a virus or malicious program can be downloaded to your computer with the intention of stealing your personal information – from credit card information, user ID and password to online banking accounts.
But don’t panic! Here are 5 tips that will minimise your risk of being a victim and unsuspectingly swallowing the bait set by scamsters to steal your identity.
5 TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF ONLINE
Watch out for suspicious e-mail or pop-up links.
NEVER click on a URL link in e-mail or fill out forms in e-mail requesting you to confirm or update personal information, even if it threatens dire consequences if you don’t reply.
Even if the e-mail seems to be from a genuine web site or someone you know, call first to check or type the web URL to log on to the site yourself (not from the e-mail). Also, never send your personal information to anyone by e-mail.
Phishing can happen by phone too. You may receive a call from someone pretending to be from a bank or company asking for your personal information. Or the person may inform you that you have been a victim of a fraud. Always verify the caller’s identity first. Credit card companies do call customers if they notice unusual activity on your card but they will only enquire about specific transactions. They will not ask for your account number or personal information.
Protect your computer with anti-virus, spam filters and firewalls.
Update your Operating System and Internet Browser regularly to ensure that you are protected. Use anti-virus software and, if possible, personal firewalls. Ensure your anti-virus software is up to date with the latest signatures.
Scan your PC for viruses and update your browser regularly.
Take some time to visit any popular anti-virus web site to scan your PC. This will alert you to any virus or malicious programs in your computer. You can often download the latest security and critical patches from these sites too.
Be cautious about clicking on pop-ups and free stuff.
Beware of downloading free programs and web content offering to increase the speed of your computer, free gifts, get rich quick schemes, etc.
You may click on these links out of curiosity or simply to read. However, in pharming scams, such content can be programmed to download a virus or malicious program or spyware to your computer while you are browsing. After that, when you type the address of a legitimate website, you are taken to a fake web site. Any personal information you provide at the fake site such as user name, account number, credit card details can be stolen and fraudulently used.
If you share your computer with others, ensure they do not visit such sites and unknowingly download malicious content.
Be selfish about sharing your password.
Online fraud frequently occurs when someone has compromised the security of their password through sharing. Do not share your password with family, relatives, friends or anyone, however harmless and convenient it may seem at the time. Your password is the key that opens the lock to your personal information and should be guarded as safely as your car keys.
Finally, always clear your cache each time you logout after an Internet session. This is especially important if others have access to your computer or you use a computer in public places such as Internet cafes.
Well, it’s easy, isn’t it? Just take these five steps to enhance the way you protect your personal information and ensure your Internet experience is enjoyable.