Online transaction systems have made things easy for consumers and online shoppers. Today, people can purchase products online, pay for those products, and complete significant digital investments by clicking a button. And all these can be done from any place and any time, as long as you have an internet connection and a device to help you complete these transactions. However, you should note about online transactions that one wrong click or trust in the wrong person could jeopardize your online safety.
Online frauds have been surging exponentially, especially in the recent past, calling for vigilance and safety of transactions. According to the 2020 FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center Report, consumers suffered losses exceeding $4.2 billion due to online frauds. Data from Canadia Anti-Fraud center also shows that as of February 2022, consumers within the country had suffered losses worth $75.5 million because of online scams.
However, as the saying goes, knowledge is power, and equipping yourself with knowledge of how to protect yourself and your digital resources from unscrupulous fraudsters can help you remain safe. This article exposes you to this knowledge by explaining the top seven tips you can employ to protect yourself from online scammers.
- Browse Secure and Authorized Sites
One of the best ways to avoid falling victim to online scams is only to browse through legitimate and genuine websites.
“But how do I know if a site I am visiting is genuine?”
There are plenty of trust indicators that prove whether or not a website is legitimate. For instance, trusting an HTTPS website should be easy rather than an HTTP website. Before clicking a website link, you must first confirm that the link is HTTPS. As much as possible, avoid browsing through HTTP websites as they could drive you directly to the scammers’ doors.
“But why HTTPS?”
There is a simple explanation for why you should only browse through HTTPS websites. The HTTPS protocol enables SSL certificates that encrypt the communication between your browsers and the web servers. Legitimate organizations referred to as certificate authorities are tasked with issuing SSL certificates. SSL certificate is also a part of cyber security policy and guidelines.
Before a CA issues an SSL certificate, it must first do its due diligence to ascertain the legitimacy of the site and the individual/organization requesting the certificate. The CA won’t issue the certificate if it has a reason to doubt the website’s legitimacy. Because of the strict SSL certificate issuance process, scammers and fraudsters cannot apply for these certificates. Any website owner that values the security of their users must get a Cheap SSL Certificate from CheapSSLShop.com to prove legitimacy and boost security through encryption. CheapSSLShop is cheapest SSL certificate provider in the world.
- Keep Everything Up To Date
Scammers will take advantage of vulnerabilities in your software or operating system to infiltrate your network with malware and viruses. Scammers will trick you into downloading links or attachments that could destroy your system by spreading malware through phishing attacks. Old software and operating systems are not well-equipped to detect and prevent such malware attacks.
The best safety measure will ensure that your device and software run on the latest versions. These versions come with advanced security features and patches that address existing vulnerabilities in old versions. Failing to update your software leaves you vulnerable to online scammers. Always ensure you install the updates once they are released and tested. Setting up automatic updates can also help you immensely by relieving you of the hassle of manual updates.
- Watch Out For Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are the most common tactic employed by unscrupulous fraudsters to trick victims into disclosing their sensitive information. According to a 2022 Proofpoint state of Phish report, 83% of organizations fell victims to phishing attacks in 2021. Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report also points out that 25% of all cybersecurity breaches involved phishing attacks.
Attackers will craft a compelling message that encourages you to download an attachment or click on a link. Before clicking on the link or downloading the attachment, always ensure that you do your due diligence by double-checking the email sender to ensure they are what they say.
Moreover, it would help if you equipped yourself with the clues that will help you spot phishing scams. For instance, most phishing scams are sent from public email domains, might contain misspelled domain names, poorly written messages, and the message creates a sense of urgency. These are some of the red flags you should look out for when spotting a phishing email.
- Check Out Public Reviews and Feedback
Another excellent method you can employ to remain safe from online scammers is to check out the online reviews and feedback of the website. The first red flag that might indicate that the website is a scam is when it lacks public reviews and feedback. Secondly, too many negative reviews and unresolved complaints posted by previous customers and clients could also be enough reason to imply that the website is a scammer. Ensure you avoid entering into any form of transaction with a website that has several negative reviews.
- Protect Your Device
With the exponential surge in data breaches and online scams we are witnessing today, it is best to protect your computers, networks, and gadgets with security infrastructure. For instance, using antimalware software will prevent viruses injected into your network by scammers. Also important is to ensure that the software is up-to-date. You also need to have a firewall to prevent harmful traffic from reaching your network. Other infrastructures that you can employ to protect your network from online fraudsters are anti-spam and anti-spyware software.
- Keep Your Login Credentials Secret
Login credentials are the most sought pieces of information that scammers want to get hold of. Anyone on the internet asking you to share such sensitive information is a fraudster. Ensure you securely store this information by memorizing it. Scammers who get hold of such information can use it to complete transactions that could harm your digital resources. Also, adhering to the best password practices could help you stay safe from online fraud.
To boost your authentication security, employing the multi-factor authentication technique is highly recommended. With multi-factor authentication, even when a scammer gets hold of your login credentials, your accounts remain safe because the scammer cannot access the extra authentication factor.
- Confirm Site Legitimacy By Contacting the Website
Before entering into any deal with someone online, you must first confirm their legitimacy. And what other better way to do that other than making a call, visiting their physical location, or sending an email? Any legitimate website must provide contact information. The lack of contact information is another red flag that shows you might be dealing with a scammer. Again, there is a difference between contact information and providing working contact information. If you cannot reach the website owners using the contact information, that might again be another red flag.
Some of the contact information legitimate websites provide include; email addresses, phone numbers, social media account profiles, and physical location. Using this information to enquire more about the business before entering into any deal with the business will help you stay away from online fraudsters.
Online fraudsters have taken over the internet and are running riot. Victims of online scams lose resources worth millions each year. Internet safety starts with you, so you must know and apply some of the proven measures to protect yourself from fraudsters. This article has explained some of the most effective measures you can use to stay safe. Always remember to apply multiple steps to increase your internet security.