Although considered the greatest invention of our times, the Internet is filled with traps and people who want to take advantage of you, especially if you don’t know your way into the digital world.
According to the Scam Tracker by the Better Business Bureau, Internet fraud has been on the rise in the past few years. There were over 47,000 successful scams recorded in 2017 alone, and the figures for 2018 don’t look too encouraging either. Internet fraud is responsible for the loss of over 100 billion USD for companies and private funds, so you should pay more attention to your digital tracks and profiles.
If you want to stay away from scammers, potential identity theft and other cyber crimes, here are some tips you should follow.
Learn how to spot illegitimate websites
The easiest way for scammers to find out personal information about you is to clone the first page of a popular site. Be it Facebook, Instagram or the homepage of your bank, these pages are designed to look identical to the official ones. So, the easiest way to check if a page is legitimate or not is to look at its URL or web address.
Often enough, the URLs will be similar to the original ones or have an extra character like a line or a dot.
Another easy way to spot a fake even if you’re not a tech savvy is to simply look for a symbol at the beginning of each URL or web address. The lock symbol right next to the URL that starts with “HTTP” or “https” usually means the address is legit and verified, so you have nothing to worry about.
Don’t give away personal information to anyone
Although it goes without saying that you shouldn’t disclose personal information to anyone you cannot trust, a lot of people are still lured with the promise of ludicrous winnings and end up giving their name and bank account data to online scammers.
In order to avoid it, don’t answer any suspicious emails or phone calls asking you to disclose sensitive data such as your full name and address, as well as details about your credit card.
Don’t sign on too many free details and samples either. Whether we’re talking about online surveys that promise immediate cash or sweet deals from other companies, you should be alert and avoid giving personal information.
Another highly popular form of online scamming is the so-called click-baiting. You will find it on any sketchy website with flashy pop-up pages that promise instant winnings or great deals on various products or services. You may also find out that you already won a huge prize even though you didn’t sign in to any contest or competition.
So, to safely browse the Internet, all you have to do is install a pop-up blocker or an ad blocker on your default browser. These extensions use complicated algorithms to keep you away from annoying ads and pop-ups while surfing on your favorite Internet pages. They will also alert you if something looks suspicious.
Keep a special debit card for online shopping
Black Friday, summer or winter sales, holidays, your birthday or other special discount coupons represent only some of the reasons why you decide to shop online. However, to score the best deal for you and your wallet, you should play it safe. Make a different debit card only for your online shopping sprees and don’t put more money on it than you need for one purchase.
Although this doesn’t eliminate the risk of having your card cloned, it will certainly discourage criminals to purchase goods in your name. We also advise you to only shop on verified and trustworthy websites. Although some of them may have higher prices, you will get better customer service and won’t risk spending your money on items that will never reach their destination.
If you happen to shop from a website for the first time, look at the company’s details and identify its address and a valid phone number. Check with the customer service for further information about return policies and other rights you have as a customer.