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December 13, 2018

How to Protect Yourself From Scammers Online

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Computer Security
Photo Credit: amelungc via flickr

You can recognize scammers when they knock on your front door and try to rope you into pyramid schemes or pressure you to give a generous donation to a vague cause. Immediately sensing that the salesperson doesn’t have honest intentions, you shut the door. It’s great that you have these instincts in-person, but there is a new style of scamming you should be aware of that is harder to spot.

Tricksters are going online and using a long list of techniques to get your money and your personal information. If you want to be protected from scams online, here are ways that you can keep your money and information secure.

Learn to Recognize a Scam 

Learning their techniques will prepare you for any potential encounters and show you how to get through them unscathed. One of the top online scams is a phishing email with links in the text that send the receiver to a familiar website — the link sends your to a fake website designed to look like a secure space. Because it has a familiar logo, some people won’t think twice about inputting their personal or financial information. 

There are lots of other techniques that tricksters use to get to your personal information. To avoid falling for anything regrettable, you should keep your eyes peeled for any of the tell-tale signs of money scams when you open up your emails or browse through websites online:

  • Requests to handle payments for someone else
  • Requests to wire money
  • Threats claiming you will go to jail, lose your job or get sued
  • Noticeable spelling and grammar errors
  • Business opportunities that sound too good to be true

Pick Secure Passwords

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from cyber theft is to choose strong passwords for every profile. A strong password tends to have six or more characters and a mixture of uppercase letters, lowercase letters and numbers. Pick something that you can easily remember, but that a stranger would have a difficult time predicting. 

Simple choices like “password” or “1234” won’t offer much security because they will be some of the first guesses that hackers will attempt. For more peace of mind, you should switch up your passwords for important accounts every three months or so.

Stick to Credit When Shopping Online 

People prefer to browse through merchandise and fill up their shopping carts online nowadays instead of at the mall. Anyone who wants to protect their bank account from hackers when they’re shopping online should use their credit card — it offers buyers much more protection than a debit card when personal information gets stolen. 

The Fair Credit Billing Act helps people if they become victims of bank fraud or identity theft after their credit card information is stolen. The consumer tends to be liable for only $50, while some credit card companies ensure that they are liable for nothing. Ideally, no one will steal your financial information and immediately make a slew of purchases, but if that happens you will rest easier if it’s with your credit than with your hard-earned money. 

Double-Check Security Protocols

From online banking to gaming apps to online stores — a lot of the things you do online require financial information. Whether you’re logging into e-banking, paying for an in-game upgrade, or purchasing a new bomber jacket, you need to ensure these online platforms are doing their best to keep your financial data secure.

A quick way to check you’re likely in good hands when you’re browsing is by checking the address bar. If the website has an “https” at the beginning of the URL, it means the company has Hyper Text Transfer Protocol with Secure Sockets Layer encrypting any data going to and from its servers. This is such an important security feature, Google has now made it mandatory on its Chrome browser. Any site without the “s” has a warning sign the visitor must acknowledge before they enter.

Another way to double check this security certificate is by browsing the site’s security information and privacy policy. Every site and app should offer these easily — from online retailers to online lenders. 

Take, for example, an online lender like MoneyKey. All you have to do is scroll to the bottom of their homepage to find links to their privacy policy, making it easy to double check they have your online security in mind. If you click it, you’ll see they employ industry standard SSL encryption and verified site certificates to protect your data.  

This simplicity is a cornerstone of their online loan services. They’ve removed many of the complexities that can complicate finding and securing an installment loan. Since these online cash advances are meant to help people facing urgent financial emergencies, an online lender’s straightforward business practices make it easier and faster to take on unexpected bills or repairs.

The added precautions and protections make the entire transaction a lot less stressful. Anyone who creates an account with them should still set up difficult passwords and change them routinely as a preventative measure.   

You have street smarts and know how to be vigilant in everyday life, but now you have to take those learned lessons into the online world. Being careful when you’re on your computer will help you avoid stressful problems like identity theft and bank fraud. Following these practical tips will stop scammers in their tracks and keep your valuable information completely safe.


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