The online world has never been so advantageous. With the tap of a button, we can order a pizza with our smartphones or share news to friends across the world. But the internet also comes with a lot of dangers, including hackers, scammers and fake loan sharks trying to access your sensitive data and financial information.
It has been reported by the BBC that some scammers are using financial worries from the pandemic to strike. We may need to be extra cautious right now.
Some of these fraudsters try to obtain your information so they can take out credit in your name, giving them cash and putting you into debt. Consequently, reputable creditors like Wonga have been publishing fraud guidelines to help you protect yourself online. Here is some of their top advice.
⦁ Use Complex and Varied Passwords
It can be annoying when you make a password and the site you are using rejects it or declares that is “weak”. But they do this to protect you. All of your passwords should be complex and not guessed easily. That means no birthday dates.
Moreover, you should try and differentiate your passwords. If a scammer gets hold of your Facebook password, you don’t want the same password to be used for your PayPal account, online banking and lots of other things.
⦁ Don’t Rely on Links or Open Attachments
You might receive an email that looks genuine or visit a website with a link to a site you recognise. But does the link really go where you think it does or does it go to a copycat site that is there to steal your information?
Some replica sites can be convincing, and you wouldn’t tell them apart. Instead of relying on links emailed to you, complete an internet search to find the top (genuine) results instead. Or even better, type the URL manually.
⦁ Be Aware of Scam Callers (and Know What to Do!)
If anyone calls you from a supposed company that you have dealings with and asks for information or payments, you can tell them you are busy and will call them back. By calling them back on their official number you will avoid any potential scams and find out if it was really them calling you.
⦁ Watch Your Tweets
Just found a kick-ass interest rate at a bank? As much as you might want to tell your friends or do a little boasting. Don’t hop on social media to broadcast your find. By doing so it reveals to potential scammers who you bank with. It gives them a foundation to start adding more pieces to the jigsaw and potentially hack your account.
Similarly, keep as much personal info off your socials as possible, i.e. no birth dates, addresses etc.
⦁ Use VPNs, Not Public Computers
Another good trick is to use a VPN to make it harder to hack your computer. But whatever you do, don’t use public computers at libraries or internet cafes to access your most sensitive accounts. If you learn more about VPNs, you might just be inclined to get one.
Whatever you do online, always be on your guard. The internet can be a fun and valuable resource, but it is also used by people wanting to do you wrong. Be on alert and if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is!