Since its birth, the Internet has grown into the ultimate source of information. You name it, you can find it on the Internet.
This has also led to people forming communities that span the globe. You can connect and converse with anyone anywhere in the world at any time. This is both an amazing thing, and a dangerous one.
Not everyone on the Internet has your best interests at heart. Some people lurk in the shadows, waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting people. A lot of websites have put measures in place to protect their users, but there is only so much they can do.
How can you protect yourself and your information in this world full of ransomware and fishing scams?
- Install a reliable antivirus program on your computer. I personally AVG, which comes with a year free trial (and they don’t ask for any of your personal information). This will help alert you to any suspicious websites. It will also regularly scan your computer to see if anything fishy has popped up on your computer. You can even opt to run a scan at any time to make sure nothing is going on that shouldn’t be.
- Check your privacy settings on social sites. We have already been over the privacy settings for Facebook. If you are on any other social networks like Twitter or Instagram, make sure to look at their privacy settings as well. The less people who have access to any of your information, the better.
- Don’t share any of your personal/private information on social media.If you get contacted by someone asking for your personal information and you do not know them, do not give them your information. Be careful with what pictures you post, that they don’t include your address or any other personal information. If someone seems fishy, block them.
- Be careful where you click. If you find yourself on a website that you feel isn’t safe, exit out of it immediately. Do not click on any popups. If you receive any emails and you are not sure who they are from, do not click on any links.
This isn’t an online thing, but if you ever get a call from someone claiming to be with the government or your bank or doctor and they ask for your personal information, do not give it to them! If it is a legit issue, there will be an office you can go into to take care of things. In the case of a scam, they will likely get flustered, get angry, and then hang up on you.
If you encounter a situation like that, but in an email, do not click on the link. Find another way to contact the entity (outside of whatever information they gave you in the email), whether it is your doctor, your bank, or some government agency. Not one of those entities would ever ask you to send your private/personal information over email.
What are some easy ways to tell if it’s a fishing scam?
They don’t state specifically what company they are from. Their information doesn’t match what you know to be on your account. They are pressing you for information that, in the case this was a legit call/email, they wouldn’t need.
Sometimes they make it blatantly obvious that they are full of crap. They call you about a credit card you don’t have. They tell you your nonexistent children are in trouble. Their information is so completely incorrect that there is no way they are legit.
The key thing is, use your common sense.
If it seems fishy, double check their information
Never give out your personal information online or over the phone, unless you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN the person is who they say they are.
Do not click on links in emails. When in doubt, search for the domain name (between the ‘www.’ and the ‘.com’ part). If your antivirus program says it is trustworthy, then you can explore further.
And, finally, when in doubt run a virus scan. It is better safe than sorry.