Worried about online fraud? We've all heard the stories. Someone was contacted by a Nigerian prince or supposedly won a free Hawaiin vacation or was asked to verify their account at the bank so their account wouldn't be terminated.
Sadly, there are people out there who are intent on separating you from your money. Every single day, scammers send out fraudulent emails and create fake websites specifically to capture credit and debit card information, social security numbers and other personal information.
It's all a numbers game. The more people these scammers can reach, the more likely they are to have someone mistakenly hand over financial information. Once a credit card is compromised, accounts can be drained and your credit can be damaged.
So, how do you stay smart and protect yourself from financial harm?
Here are some ways to recognize online scams:
- First and foremost, if you have a gut feeling that an email is part of a scam, just delete it or hit the spam button. If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is!
- Do not respond to unsolicited emails and don't click the links or pictures in those emails. You may be inviting a virus onto your computer.
- Only open attachments or pictures from people or institutions that you know.
- A quick Google search will often tell you more about a possible scam - you aren't the first person to receive it and someone else has probably posted information warning about what they've seen - almost like a community watch program.
- Watch out for poor spelling, bad grammar and odd formatting - these are all signs of a non-professional email or website.
- Install a spam filter on your email and run your virus protection software every so often (most computers have basic virus protection programs as a standard option).
Online fraud is its own industry, one you hope you don't get caught in. Just taking these simple steps will help you avoid the vast majority of scams.
Be safe online!
For more information, visit these resources:
FBI.gov Scams & Safety