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Protecting Yourself from Online Scams and Phishing Attacks

The World Wide Web has become essential for individuals and businesses alike. However, the growing reach of the internet has also meant an increase in cyber crime. Earlier, internet users were afraid of just hackers, but cyber criminals have evolved over the years. Now there are several other threats as well. Social engineering, phishing, and pharming are some of the threats present today.

Online scams are the most common threats present today mainly because people have started conducting financial transactions online. Cyber criminals target these transactions or try different methods to obtain personal information from you. Phishing is one of the most common methods used by such criminals. Phishing attacks are usually carried out through e-mails where the sender of the mail tries to trick you into revealing information like passwords and credit card details. Following are some steps that should be taken to ensure that you do not become a victim to such attacks.

  1. Always check the URL carefully before clicking on the link. Sometimes, the URL might be only slightly different from the real URL. For instance, ‘trustedbank.com’ might be the real URL, but the the phishing mail would have the URL as ‘trustdbank.com’.
  1. Check the hyperlink, if any, to see where it leads. When you hover over a link for sometime, the address appears at the bottom of your browser. Some attackers hyperlink a different URL to the one mentioned in the mail.
  1. Mails from banks and other established organizations are usually void of any typos or grammatical errors. Presence of such errors should alert you and you should confirm the authenticity of the mail by calling the company.
  1. If the mail is from a company that you have not dealt with before or have not contacted in a long time, it is always advisable to ignore it.
  1. Phishing mails often ask the user for verification of important information through the mail. Any reputable company will never ask for sensitive information through means of electronic communication.

Lottery scams and counterfeit checks

Everyone loves to win a lottery, and fraudsters take advantage of this fact. They might send you mails stating that you have won a contest or a lottery or that you have been short listed for some special promotion. Some of them will ask for your account details or login details, saying that it is required for verification purposes. Avoid such mails at all costs.

However, cyber criminals have gone a step further these days. They will send you the check as well for the said amount, which is often quite substantial. They would ask you to cash the check and send some part of the amount to a different account. The checks are usually counterfeit and and by the time the bank realizes this, the amount has been wired. You will be at a loss in such situations because the bank considers the victim to be the responsible party.

Internet purchase and Craigslist scams

These scams are perpetrated by cyber criminals who present themselves as online buyers interested in your products. The purchaser will generally offer you a higher amount than the selling price of the item. If the purchaser is in a foreign country, it is an indicator that he/she is attempting to rip you off your money. Such scams are also possible when you are being sold an item online. You  pay the amount only to find out that  the product will not be delivered to you.

Social media is a another platform used by hackers to attack you. To stay safe, you can use different tools which allow you to use anonymous social media. More than anything, you need to be vigilant at all times while browsing the net to ensure that you do not fall prey to these scams.

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