The points below can help you to be safer online – but stay cautious, especially where money is concerned.
1. Don’t buy anything or agree to anything that seems too good to be true.
The offer of riches or a bargain or some reward may tempt you, but be careful. If something seems too good to true then it almost certainly is.
2. Always check and confirm the identity of individuals and websites you are dealing with, both online and offline. Do not give away any personal information unless you are sure of who they are and why they need the information.
3. Don’t fall for an advance fee scam. That is do not pay upfront for a job application, a reward, a lottery win or anything else similar.
Any work-at-home scheme where you have to pay upfront is likely to be a scam and anything else where you pay up front for something where you don’t expect a charge is also likely to be a scam.
This applies, for example, to lotteries, other supposed competition wins or inheritances, and people claiming they want to share money they inherited or won.
- Don’t buy (or rent) from someone you don’t know or haven’t checked out. This is a difficult one as it’s the business model for Internet business Airbnb and many people around the world have benefited from renting out their home to strangers or renting the home of a stranger. If you are going to do this, make sure to read the reviews carefully looking for anything suspicious and if there aren’t enough reviews on the property then find another one.
- Protect your confidential information. Don’t give out private information in response to an inquiry you didn’t initiate.
- Buying Online. Use services like PayPal to limit your exposure to card fraud. Once your card is registered on Paypal you can use it on most websites to make secure payment without those websites having sight of your card details.
When buying online, check for “https” in the address line and a closed padlock symbol . If they are missing then the site isn’t safe for confidential information such as login and password.
- Don’t be pressed into taking precipitate action. The scammers will try to make you do things quickly – so you don’t have time to figure out that it’s a scam. They will make things appear urgent or set a deadline.
No matter how persuasive an offer seems or how much an agent pushes you to agree on a deal now to get a discount, don’t do it!
- Do not respond to charity emails as these can be fake – only donate to charities you know or have checked out and send your money directly to the charity.
- Use reputable Internet security software on your PC and keep it up to date. Choose products with “Internet Security” or similar wording rather than simple anti-virus programs as they have more comprehensive features and protection.
Regularly check that you’re using the latest version and that it automatically updates its malware definitions.
Ignore pop-ups and other warnings that your machine is infected that don’t come from this program. And never pay money in response to such warnings.
- Don’t click on links and attachments in unsolicited, unchecked messages or social networks.
This may be difficult for some people used to such messages from friends, but it’s your choice to take the risk or not. At Christmas time many people send e-cards and scammers know this and send their own malware versions, so be warned.
- Don’t use Cash Transfer companies such as Western Union or Moneycorp as if the transaction proves to be fraudulent you cannot recover your money.
- Be wary about downloading software from unfamiliar websites or using torrent sites that share files. These might install malware on your PC.
- Set strong passwords and ideally use different logins and passwords for each website.
- Never reply to spam messages – there’s no point and you would only end up with more spam messages.
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