You’re not alone if you’ve noticed an increase in the number of scammy emails arriving in your inbox in the previous year. According to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report, there were 300,000 more complaints of internet crimes (phishing, non-payment/non-delivery frauds, or extortion) in 2020 than there were in 2019. While the more obvious phishers are reasonably easy to notice, online scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and difficult to detect.
Continue reading below to learn how to defend yourself from internet frauds after listening to this week’s edition of the Wealthy & Regular podcast about living with financial theft.
Pay Attention To Your Instincts.
Most of us are aware of common hoaxes such as being requested to transmit your bank account information in order to claim foreign lottery winners or princes of distant places seeking assistance in transferring treasures away from rebel fighters. While these brazen attempts can be amusing at times, the threat is serious and often goes unnoticed.
Pay heed to your gut if something about an email, text message, or website feels off or strange, and apply the advice below to help protect yourself from online frauds.
Ensure That Your Devices Are Up To Date.
Keeping your software, browsers, and operating systems up to date will help keep your computer safe from malware, viruses, and other dangerous software. Make sure that your devices’ automatic updates are set on so that you always have the most up-to-date versions.
Check Your Credit Report Every Three Months.
Checking your credit report is a good idea for your financial health, but it’s also a good way to verify sure no one is using your bank or credit cards without your permission. Check your report on a regular basis for any unusual transactions or fraudulent postings.
Remember that you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months, and you can pull your credit report every week until April 2022 as a response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Social Networking Should Be Avoided At All Costs.
On social media, we’ve all unintentionally shared more information than we intended. While this may be an embarrassing overshare on occasion, hackers frequently utilize personal information to get access to your accounts and passwords.
Don’t answer any of those amusing posts in which you’re asked to name your favorite color, first car, or birth month. Scammers utilize this method to obtain personal information that could be used in a password.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your social media accounts, browsers, and internet modems all have the highest password and security settings activated.
Avoid Using public Wi-Fi.
When utilizing public or unprotected wifi, be cautious of the websites you access. Avoid logging into your bank or any other sensitive sites that could allow hackers to obtain personal information or passwords.
Make Use Of a Password Manager.
Password managers use an encrypted database to store your website and account credentials. When you use these, all you have to remember is the manager’s password, and the software will take care of the rest. Password managers can also advise strong passwords for new accounts, making you less likely to be hacked, and they frequently include features that warn you about phishing websites that are attempting to steal your information.
Don’t Click On Any Of The Links.
Your bank or other financial institution is unlikely to ask you to confirm your password, account numbers, or other sensitive information by email, and they certainly won’t do so without first informing you.
If you get an email out of the blue, double-check for any details that aren’t quite right before clicking a link you’re not sure about. When in doubt, open a new browser window and visit the real website, or look for the primary customer support number.
Keep An Eye Out For The Elderly People In Your Life.
According to the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, seniors lose $3 billion each year to online frauds. Remind the seniors in your life that sending personal information through email or phone is risky, and that anyone phoning claiming to be raising money for a charity may be dishonest.
Is It Possible That It’s All Too Wonderful To Be True?
Keep in mind that if something seems too good to be true, it most likely is. While being paranoid doesn’t help and frequently generates more anxiety, using good judgment and looking for things that are out of place, as well as keeping a careful eye on your banking accounts and credit report, are all excellent strategies to avoid falling victim to the internet scams.