There’s nothing new about online scams, but they have gotten more sophisticated over the years. Scammers know that making something look as legitimate as possible increases the odds of duping a hapless victim and making a lot of money off the deal. To protect yourself, use these strategies to avoid sharing your information with those who will use it to their advantage.
Congratulations You’ve Won!
Who hasn’t received emails about winning contests? While that’s exciting, it is also one of the most common online scams around. There is a quick and simple way to decide if you have actually won anything. If you do not remember entering the contest, there is no way you have won anything.
A closer inspection may indicate that the sender wants you to supply information, sometimes even your banking information. Others want you to wire money, passing it off as a processing fee. Either way, you will end up with nothing.
Email attachments can contain malware or viruses that grab your personal information and release it to unscrupulous parties. The viruses may be new and not yet detectable by the software on your computer. Before you know it, somebody has your banking information, your credit card information including your PIN, and all sorts of other data. Even if the sender appears to be someone you know, never open an attachment until you talk with the person and verify it is legitimate.
Your Account is Locked
The range of online scams include sending out purported messages from banks and online payment services informing recipients that their account is now locked due to suspicious activity. The only way to unlock the accounts is to click on the link provided and answer some questions.
No bank or online payment service does this. Even if the email looks official, do not click on that link. Call your bank or payment service and report the email. Chances are your account is just fine, and they will ask you to forward the email to their fraud division.
Along with these direct online scams, make it a point to only shop on secured sites, and use HTTPS sites whenever possible. Keeping your antivirus software up to date will also help. Take charge of your online activity. A little doubt could keep you from financial ruin and prevent you from having to undo the effects of identity theft.