Social media, messenger services, online shops: we spend almost every day on the Internet and leave our data there. No wonder more and more criminals are trying their luck online.
That is why it is so important to recognize scams and not disclose any sensitive data. In this article you will find helpful tips on how to protect yourself from modern-day scams so that you can shop and chat online safely.
What Exactly Is Online Fraud?
Internet fraud, or online scams, is a collective term for crimes committed through websites or mobile apps. It is easier for scammers to fool people on the Internet than in real life.
Well-known websites can be recreated in a deceptively real way so that users unsuspectingly enter their data. Internet scammers also know that, given the wealth of information, many people don’t always check a link in an email or text message carefully.
This gives hackers access to smartphones or computers and the possibility to intercept sensitive data such as your bank account details or saved passwords.
Luckily, there are several ways to protect yourself from online scams. The first step is to familiarize yourself with common methods such as phishing and pharming.
It is also helpful to understand the tactics of cybercriminals, especially social engineering. In this guide, we have rounded up some examples of internet scams that you might encounter online. So now let’s move on to the tips on how to protect yourself from scams.
The good news is: you don’t need expensive software or anything like that to detect internet fraud. It is often enough to take a little time and critically question offers, websites, or new contacts. The following tips may be helpful:
1. If your data is “personal”, you should not share it with anyone, unless there is an emergency. Choose a person you trust so that they could carry out some procedures, for example, but always try to maintain your privacy.
2. Experts suggest that you know and exercise your ARCO Rights (access, rectification, cancellation, opposition). Check the privacy notice on the pages where you register for a specific purpose: an event, or purchases, among others. This will help you improve the security of personal data online.
3. Find information about people or companies that are contacting you. Whether it’s an Instagram contact, a LinkedIn recruiter, or a charity representative, try to verify the identity of a person you don’t know, and don’t click on any links in the message.
You can search for such information on Nuwber. This website uncovers contact numbers, home, and email addresses, work history, family details, social links, and much more.
4. Don’t give out your personal information just like that. Be careful when someone asks you for payment information or your personal data.
This applies in particular to inquiries by telephone, SMS, or e-mail. Consider whether a particular person or company needs this information. For example, banks would never ask for your PIN, even if they claim your account is at risk.
5. Be careful when shopping online. Fraud in online shops has been increasing for years. Before you buy something on an unknown website, you should therefore look at the imprint and research the provider. Also, check that the payment methods offered are secure.
6. Don’t download a strange or dubious file or application, especially if you don’t need it. If you want to install an app that you know little about, such as one about photo editing or games and then plan to delete it, you better not download it, because the malware will already be inside your device.
7. Check your privacy settings on social networks. If your personal information is easily visible online, you could quickly become a target for cybercriminals. Therefore, you should check your settings and make sure that your personal data is not accessible to everyone.
8. Take a close look at suspicious online offers. This includes job offers, discount codes, travel offers, free giveaways, or unusually high discounts on expensive items. If something seems too good to be true, that’s a pretty sure sign of online scams.
9. Protect yourself when selling on online platforms. Do you think selling on online marketplaces like eBay is safe? Unfortunately, criminals have also come up with methods to steal your money. Therefore, only use secure payment methods when selling and never click on links from prospects.
10. Another solution is to encrypt the phone. Through encryption, which can be done from the configuration or settings of the device, a kind of shield is created over the data indicated, which makes it inaccessible to third parties.
11. It is important to bear in mind that encrypted files can only be unlocked with a password and that it is advisable to make a backup copy beforehand. Encryption cannot be undone and to deactivate it would require a factory data reset, which would erase all information on the device.
12. Update both apps and the phone. The new updates for the operating system include improvements in security barriers. If your apps and phone are not updated, they can be vulnerable to downloading malicious programs.
13. Be very careful with public spaces. Do not connect to a USB charging point or a public WiFi network that is not trusted, as it can be manipulated to steal data.
14. Even if Pegasus sounds distant to you, there are many other viruses and malicious programs that steal information from anyone’s mobile devices. Don’t make it easy for them. With the help of such viruses it’s not only possible to steal your data, but also delete programs or even reformat the hard drive.
15. Finally, install an antivirus. There are free and paid versions that include more complete protection for your phone. In addition, keep your antivirus up to date: most of them have limited subscription periods. After the time has passed (months, years), the security system remains installed but inactive if you do not renew it.
Strengthen your device with the tips above and maintain safe habits when using your mobile phone, computer or tablet to ensure the security and integrity of your private information.