Hoaxes attempt to fool people into dropping some cash. Scams can be a lot more dangerous, since they attempt to obtain all types of sensitive info. Be it passwords, usernames or credit card details, scams can be very hard to identify at times. They can be in the form of messages from popular social web site, auction sites, IT admins and even job seeking sites. It’s typically carried out by email and instant messaging, though scams are also possible through phone calls. Users are prompted to enter info that often looks and works exactly like the legitimate one, even under severe scrutiny via server authentication. Since scams go the extra mile to get info from their users, they require more than just a little common sense to deal with.
- Even if the mails look like they’re from familiar people, they could be from scammers and contain programs that will steal your personal information.
- Watch out for “phishy” emails. The most common form of scamming are emails pretending to be from a legitimate retailer, bank, organization, or government agency. The sender asks to “confirm” your personal information for some made-up reason: your account is about to be closed, an order for something has been placed in your name, or your information has been lost because of a computer
- Don’t click on links within emails that ask for your personal information. Fraudsters use these links to lure people to phony web sites that looks just like the real sites of the company, organization, or agency they’re impersonating. Always verify the web site from the company or agency, call it directly or go to its web site via search engine.
- A scammer can direct you to a real company’s web site, but then an unauthorised pop-up screen created by the scammer will appear, with blanks in which to provide your personal information. Never provide information in these. Installing pop-up blocking software helps prevent this.
- A spam filter can help reduce the number of scam mails you get. Anti-virus software as explained earlier can scan for malicious files and report any suspicious activity taking place on your PC. Firewalls will prevent unauthorised communications from entering your computer. Look for programs that offer automatic updates and take advantage of free patches that manufacturers offer to fix newly discovered problems.
Most browsers these days maintain a list of known scam sites and check web sites against the list. Mozilla Firefox 2 onwards uses Google’s anti-phishing software, which has found be more effective than Internet Explorer 7 onwards in detecting fraudulent sites.