As the number of internet users continues to grow, so does the number of people on the internet who are out to try to con innocent people. There are thousands of websites out there that aim to steal your money or your identity, or both. In addition to suspicious websites, there are other online dangers, such as Spyware viruses or phishing emails. This article aims to give you some advice about how to stay safe from scams when you are online.
Do not allow remote access to your computer
Even if you believe that you have a virus on your computer, you should not allow anyone to have remote access to your computer for any reason, unless you know 100% that they are from a trusted source. Trusted sources may include your internet service provider and computer-repair companies that you already have an account with. Allowing other people to have remote access to your computer will allow them to gain access to all of the personal data that you have stored on there, and will compromise your future online security. They may also take the opportunity to install malicious software.
Make sure that your security software is up-to-date and that you run it regularly to make sure that there is nothing suspicious on your computer. Old virus software is unlikely to pick up or stop newer computer viruses or Malware, unless the maker has developed an update for them. Only use anti-virus software from genuine suppliers. Pop–ups claiming to be from anti-virus “software” which will rid your machine of specific viruses are normally fraudulent so you should avoid downloading them onto your computer, as this can actually give you a virus.
Phishing emails are emails which purport to come from a certain sender, but which actually come from a different source entirely. They are designed to trick the recipient into revealing personal data about themselves or making payments to unknown sources.
The most common phishing emails will claim to be from banks, building societies and credit card companies, although Paypal and other money transfer services are also potential targets.
Remember that your bank or building society will never ask you to send your log-in details via email. If you do receive an email from your account provider, you should go onto a search engine and use this to find and access your provider’s official page (better still type it in if you know it), rather than going through the email link. Be aware that the same owner does not necessarily own a “.co.uk” web address as owns the “.com” address, so although the URL may look legitimate, it may not be owned by the company that you think owns it. Contact your email provider if you think that you have received a phishing email. Never reply to the email, as this shows the sender that your email address is an active one.
You should never enter your credit card number, debit card number or any other bank account number on a website unless you know that they website is secure. To check whether you are looking at a secure link, you should be able to see a small padlock symbol in the URL bar. If there is no symbol, or the padlock symbol appears on the site itself, rather than in the URL bar, then the chances are that it is a fraudulent site. It’s worth pointing out that many websites will not have a padlock but websites such as banking services or where sensitive data is transferred should have the padlock to let you know it is secure. You should also make sure that if the padlock is displayed then the url starts with “https:” rather than just “http:” The S represents a secure site. On some newer browsers, you should also see the name of the website turn green on the URL of secure sites.