The digital world we live in has grown exponentially in recent years, meaning the chances of becoming a victim of scams, fraud and spam are rising as well. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize your chances of being on the receiving end of one of these terrible experiences. We talked to Faisal Abidi and Raghib Khan, Co-Founders of RNF Technologies to write this helpful guide to learn about how to protect yourself from scams, fraud and spam in the growing digital world.
#1 Shop on sites you know and trust
Online shopping is a great way to save time and money. But all it takes is one malicious website or piece of spam email to put your identity in jeopardy. Before you shop online, research any site you’re considering—and if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure that websites are secure before entering personal information like your address or phone number and look for HTTPS in front of any web addresses that show up in your browser bar.
#2 Be aware of pop-ups
We live in a world with more and more pop-ups. When visiting a website that wants to sell you something or sign you up for something, watch out for extra windows or pop-ups that try to get your attention. Usually, these are scams and frauds.
#3 Don’t click on links in emails you don’t recognize
One of the most popular methods for digital fraudsters is to create an email that looks like it’s from your bank, or another business you use regularly. Since we all get these emails frequently and rarely question them, many people don’t think twice about clicking on a link in one. So unless you have any reason to believe an email is real (you know it came from that specific business) or suspect something might be up, always call a number on your own rather than clicking through a hyperlink.
#4 Change your passwords regularly
Changing your passwords regularly is an essential security practice to help protect yourself from fraud and scams. Hackers are getting smarter and more creative by the day. If you’re serious about protecting yourself, do some research on a reputable password manager—the kind that can generate random alphanumeric strings for all of your logins across websites.
#5 Use multi-factor authentication
One of your first lines of defence is multifactor authentication (MFA). This requires a person to present two things—like a password and another one-time code sent via text message—to access an account. Ideally, you want to use both something you know (your password) and something you have (your phone) when signing into important accounts like email or work documents. Many services offer two-factor authentication; Google Authenticator, Apple’s iCloud Keychain and LastPass are all examples.
#6 Monitor your bank accounts
If you don’t want to get hit with overdraft fees or lose track of your money, monitor your accounts online. Most banks and credit unions have mobile apps that enable you to check balances, pay bills and more right from your phone. Make sure you opt for a password-protected app so no one else can log in without your permission.
#7 Investigate text messages with links
If you’re wary of a text message with a link in it, take your time. Try visiting websites by typing in their web address to see if they match up. If you spot any discrepancies, there’s likely something suspicious about them. This simple step can save you from falling for scams and spam—which cost people over $1 billion every year (according to Norton).
#8 Use an ad blocker
Ad blockers are free programs that stop all ads from showing up on your computer. They also keep your computer safe by blocking malicious pages and dangerous scripts that could hack into your computer. Furthermore, ad blockers eliminate most spam e-mails you receive because spam relies on displaying ads to be successful. If you’re trying to avoid fraud and scams while browsing online, it’s a good idea to install an ad blocker on your computer immediately!
#9 Beware of fake news/social media users
Read and thoroughly research before you buy. No matter what social platform you’re on, make sure you read every little detail of anything that might affect your money. Fake news can quickly take advantage of gullible social media users and send them down a rabbit hole of scams. Don’t be one of them! Be wary if something seems too good to be true; it probably is. If something sounds or looks suspicious—especially if it asks for personal information—it’s likely, not legit.
#10 Don’t install apps unless you need them
Of course, it’s easy to get excited about new apps—especially when you think they’ll save you time or money. Before installing a new app or signing up for any service on your smartphone, however, take a few minutes to check out reviews and read through the terms of service. You can also download an anti-virus app to protect yourself from malware and other unwanted files.