Online scams are becoming frighteningly common. The FBI released a report in 2018 showing that losses from online scams exceeded $1.4 billion the previous year.
I know a number of people that have been victims of online fraud in recent years. Some of these victims are very educated people with advanced degrees, but still fell for scams.
The general nature of these scams has been similar over the years, but they have evolved. You need to be aware of the latest precautions if you want to stay safe. The two biggest issues that you need to stay on top of are phishing scams and commerce fraud.
The State of Online Fraud in 2019
Over the last few years, we have started witnessing an undeniable increase in online security risks, A lot of these issues are driven by a growing dependence on online technology to manage our daily lives. We use the Internet for a variety of things: from paying for a movie ticket, to getting a plane ticket, booking a hotel room and managing our bank accounts.
Although the Internet is fast, convenient, economical and versatile, there are a number of risks with our growing reliance on it. These trends can be exploited by cybercriminals, who commit fraud. Fortunately, we can avoid or at least minimize these risks by following a series of tips when operating online.
One example of a widespread scam on the Internet is known as “phishing”. This is a widespread scam where fraudulent emails are sent to look like they are coming from trusted sources (banks, organisations, public bodies). They look very much like the real sender, with logos, symbols and corporate images that are identical to the official ones and links that lead to the fraudulent Web.
You may think that phishing scams are easy to spot, so you won’t be a victim. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. They cost United States consumers around $500 million in 2017 alone. This was a third of the cost of all online fraud.
The modus operandi of these online conmen involves sending unsolicited emails to e-mail addresses in which we are asked to check the bank account, click on a link or provide sensitive information such as our username, key or password, ID or Social Security number.
We may also receive unsolicited emails alerting users that their account is being used fraudulently and that if not answered, providing access data to it, immediately, will be canceled.
How can you minimize the effects of phishing?
There are a number of steps that you can take to minimize the risk of being scammed by a phishing attack. You should take the following precautions:
– Delete any email that may appear suspicious or that is not known of the origin, without opening it.
– Delete any spam or junk mail (do not open their attachments or access their links).
– Avoid message chains, as these are a source of spam and a way of collecting email addresses potential sources of phishing. To do this, it is best to send emails with hidden recipients.
– Install an updated antivirus program. You need the latest versions of the software of the programs of the computer. This also applies to smartphones and tablets. After an antivirus product is installed, it needs to be regularly updated. These antivirus products can contain different operations such as anti-phishing functions that analyze the access pages to verify that they are secure and identity is not stolen. In addition to anti-virus, you should also protect yourself with anti-spyware, malware and adware programs.
– If an antivirus product is installed, it is regularly updated. These antivirus products may contain different operations, such as anti-phishing functions that analyze the access pages to verify that they are secure and that the identity is not stolen. In addition to anti-virus, you should also protect yourself with anti-spyware, malware and adware programs.
– Do not click on links that come in supposedly fraudulent or dubious emails, as this can lead to pages that are designed to defraud unwitting visitors (it is always safer to type the address directly in the address bar of the computer).
– Remember that a bank will never ask you for user information, passwords and personal data via email.
– Before entering personal data on a particular web page, make sure that it is a secure server (the address of the page starts with https, presence of a padlock in the address bar).
– If you have received any of these e-mails or if you are the victim of such a deception, do not hesitate to inform the entity whose identity you have been impersonated and report it to the police.
Be Cautious About Shopping Online
Shopping on the Internet is safe if you follow a series of tips or security standards.
– Examine the online store or e-commerce platform before making a purchase, and compare prices.
– Collect as much information as possible about the selling party (address, telephone,…). Major search engines can be a good option for data comparison.
– Make purchases in e-commerce or auction sites that offer confidence (because they have been used before or because of the favourable opinions of other people).
– Check the information that exists about the company responsible for the website. You can check, in the section “Who we are” should include electronic security seals such as certificates VeriSign, Trust-e or Confidence Online, which can confirm the authenticity of the page. It is advisable, although it may be tedious, to read carefully the contact details and also the section of the “Legal Area” or the “Terms and Conditions”. It may also be useful to read the frequently asked questions, and verify that they have a customer service in case you have to make a complaint. Web pages that do not offer any identifying data that allows their location should be avoided at all costs.
– Be wary of advertisements with disproportionately low prices (they may conceal fraud or a manifest lack of quality).
– At the same prices, always buy on Websites of Spanish or European Union sites, as the Spanish and European regulations are a guarantee for the resolution of possible claims. Be wary of advertisements of offers when the advertisement is in a language with incorrect or badly written.
– Do not buy when an ad or offer arrives from an unknown or unsolicited site (may be a source of spam or phishing).
– Check that the prices offered include taxes and do not present hidden additional costs, such as management fees or fees Read small print.
– Be wary of business proposals that sound too good to be true (immediate solution of economic problems, unbeatable job opportunities, investments without any risk, offering gifts, …).
– If a transaction is carried out with a mobile terminal or tablet, it is recommended that this transaction is carried out by means of a mobile application, if it exists, instead of the website itself. Many companies have mobile applications and tablets that allow the purchase process to be carried out in a secure manner. Therefore, it is recommended to download and install them on the mobile device to proceed from the application itself and not from the mobile browser.
You should be able to signiificantly reduce your risks of being a victim by following these tips.