The Internet provides a global marketplace for consumers and businesses... and crooks.
There are many different Internet Frauds, but all involve fooling you into doing something. Usually, one or more of these:
- Trick you into installing malicious software which can capture sensitive data (such as your on-line banking passwords)
- Take control of your computer remotely
- Get your credit card number or other personal information
- Direct you to fraudulent websites which ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information.
Keep your computer (or tablet, or smart phone) secure:
- If you didn't go looking for it, don't install it. Don't be tricked into clicking on an email link or attachment, or installing a custom application or plug-in.
- If something is installed, keep it updated. Yes, keeping your operating system current with the latest patches is important, but make sure you also keep all your applications and plug-ins updated as well.
- If you no longer need it, remove it. Regularly review all your applications; remove anything you no longer use. That's less application that could be attacked, and you won't have to worry about keeping it updated any more.
Keep your credit card information secure:
- Never use a debit card (or "check card") for on-line purchases. Only use a credit card.
- Dedicate one credit card just for on-line purchases... or at least have one or more card that you never use on-line.
Keep your on-line accounts secure:
- Never log into an on-line account (especially your e-mail account) when using a "public" WiFi connection (at Starbucks or anywhere else).
- If you have your own WiFi (wireless) network, keep it secure with your own non-default password
- Use "two-factor" authentication whenever possible.
- Always use long passwords (10 characters minimum; longer if possible) which would be impossible to guess.
- Never use the same password for more than one on-line account.
Keep your personal information secure:
- Never send personal information in e-mail or instant messages. They are too easy for someone to intercept or read.
- Limit personal information you post on the Web and restrict who can access it.
- Avoid storing sensitive information (credit card numbers, Social Security number, etc.) on your computer. If your computer is compromised, you'll be less exposed.
- Before disposing of an old computer (or smart phone), completely "wipe" it.
- Do not keep e-mail messages which contain personal or financial information (bank account statements, etc.) stored in your on-line e-mail account.
Use common sense:
- Don't even open an e-mail message from someone you're unsure about. Just delete the message.
- Never download an application or attachment from an e-mail message from someone you don't know.
- Don't even click on a link within an e-mail message if you're unsure about who really sent it. (Messages from banks and other financial institution are often spoofed; fraudulent messages always contain a link to click on, bona fide messages shouldn't.)