Thieves have been around at least since the days of Ali Baba and online security isn’t a new topic, but the list of Internet scams are. You do have to stay vigilant. Some Internet scams are simple to recognize, while others require some skill to detect.
If you do use the Internet regularly, chances are that you have received a number of invitations to send some of your hard-earned cash to unscrupulous strangers. Familiarize yourself with the bait
Watch for email messages that claim to be from your credit card company or other financial institution. One such phishing email, as posted at netforbeginners.about.com, goes like this:
This email was sent by the Citibank server to verify your E-mail address. You must complete this process by clicking on the link below and entering in the small window your Citibank ATM/Debit Card number and PIN that you use on ATM.
As you may have guessed, the link in the email does not connect to Citibank at all. Some recipients of this message probably did not give it a second thought. They believed it was from their financial institution, and sent the requested information—right into a thief’s waiting hard drive.
One rule of Internet safety is to never, ever click on a link in an email that leads you to a site to enter personal information. Some of these phony emails and sites are cleverly disguised, complete with company logos, and may look perfectly legitimate; which is why phishing is at the top of this list of Internet scams.
Your real financial institution will not ask you to verify your credit card number and PIN, or any other sensitive information, through an email link. If you have questions about a message you receive, use the company’s regular Web address and contact a representative. Do not use contact information you find on the email or through the link.
Unfortunately, strangers are not the only ones who can send you malicious messages. Your friends may unwittingly do it, too. Click on a link sent by a friend with a hacked account, and your account could be next. A simple social media message from a trusted friend may exclaim, “You have got to see this!!”
You click on the link, and the next thing you know your account has sent the same message and link to everyone on your list, complete with a dirty video. Be wise; do not click on a link just because a friend sent or posted it.
Friends in Need
Imagine reading on Facebook that one of your friends is trapped overseas, has lost his wallet and passport, and needs you to wire him some money so he can return home. Be careful or you will succumb to another popular entry on our list of Internet scams. If you try to contact him through the same account, you will receive instructions about how and where to send the money.
If you know your friend’s writing style, you might recognize that his account has been hacked. If you are concerned that your friend is in trouble, it is important that you verify that this is really the case. Do not try to contact him at the account that sent you the message; if a hacker is involved you cannot reach him that way. Instead, call him, call his family, or contact his work. Verify that he actually needs the help before sending anything. The message is most likely a scam.
It is true that there are many ways for your Internet safety to be compromised. But that does not mean you have to stop using it. The Better Business Bureau suggests keeping your computer up-to-date on anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and never clicking on links from senders you do not know. Be careful of any information you send electronically, and do not send sensitive information to any destination that you have not directly contacted yourself.
With some extra vigilance and common sense, you can take a bite out of Internet crime. Use this list of Internet scams to remain vigilant. If you have been scammed below, please tell us your story below.
John Deschamp is a network administrator and freelance blogger for highspeedinternet.net, a site he often recommends to those looking to learn more about how cable internet works.
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