10 Tips to Protect Yourself from Online Scams

Cybercrime has become more dangerous than at any time before. With millions of dollars that people can make, they develop thousands of tools and methods to get your data and steal your data, including credit cards and personal details.

The good news is that you can protect yourself if you follow and apply the below tips one by one, before doing anything online, including, shopping, and logging into any website. Your safety should be taken seriously.

How to avoid online scams and protect yourself

1. Never open unknown emails

It’s simple and fast, you shouldn’t open unknown emails. It’s the easiest way to attack your machine and steal your data. Ask yourself why someone wants to send an email, even, without introducing himself. Google is a good example of a great spam filtering tool. Their Gmail is safer than any other mailbox.

Nothing is perfect, and you can receive thousands of emails from people whom you don’t have any relation with. If you find email subjects like ”free”, or with ”money” and something like that, then it’s probably a scammer. So, forget those emails and delete them.

It happens sometimes that trusted emails will be received in the spam folder, but, it’s not a general case. You can know which website is good if you remember its name and the URL. But, when it comes to links within the spam emails, they can include a redirect with hidden links that destroy your security and even install spyware without your permission, of course.

Keep it simple, forget all these links, or copy and paste them into your protected environment page, if your antivirus supports those features. Or if you want to go further and it’s really important, then, look up that email address and find the real person behind it. That can help a lot in identifying bad contacts.

3. Update your OS and antivirus

Even if your operating system runs an automatic update every day, you can miss lots of new updates if your computer checks these updates every day. Before buying online or sending any data, update your software manually, and you will avoid lots of problems.

Use a powerful antivirus like BitDefender, it’s the most sophisticated antivirus and internet security software.

These easy steps take a few minutes to apply. Companies scan and collect new data across the web to detect malware and malicious sites. So, you should use that feature to get the latest protection.

4. Use a virtual keyboard for sensitive details

To maximize your security, avoid typing using your real keyboard keys when you shop online. People can bypass your firewall, and even the antivirus to add spyware software that you can’t find.

That tool can record every click on your keyboard and send a full report about your daily activities with the websites that you’ve visited, and the logins that you’ve used.

Of course, there are many ways to protect your laptop from these kinds of software, but, what if you take the security to the next level by using your antivirus virtual keyboard?

5. Verify the website’s identity before you buy

I’ve talked about this topic, you can learn how to know if a website is safe to buy from, and how to find good websites from others who are just scammers. Start with a simple investigation that will take a few minutes. Google is your best friend to find out what other people are saying about the company that you want to buy from.

Search for its name with words like ”scam” and ”fraud”, and you should find details if they are really bad people. If it’s not the case, then, that’s good news, however, go further and verify the business of that website.

The Council of Better Business Bureau, or the BBB, is what makes things easier for you. If the company is registered and trusted in the U.S., for example, you can search its name and find all the details about it.

If you think that the site is suspicious and you’re going to spend a lot of money buying an item or service there, then, verify the person’s phone number and see if it’s real or fake.

6. Never enter payment details without an encrypted connection

That green lock that appears at the top of your web browser address bar is what you need. It’s an SSL certificate that encrypts and secures the connection between your browser and the distant server that the website uses to receive money or to restore data.

Look at the following example of the Google pages, they are all secure and safe. That’s what you should see in every verified business and site that cares about their customer’s data.

secure encrypted connection

7. Navigate with modern web browsers

Lots of people still believe that their web browser is just a tool to access the website, and that’s it. The truth is that every browser should be updated first, and second, it should detect every fraud or scam website, and alert the user with a clear notification.

Google Chrome, for example, compares the local date and time with the real date and the website certificate, to ensure the validity of that certification.

I’ve seen lots of issues with browsers like Opera and others, especially with old versions. Unfortunately, many people still use outdated browsers, and that’s what makes them easy victims.

So, update your browser all the time. Chrome updates itself automatically, but always compares your current version with the latest version on the official website. That seems an extra step, but it makes things better.

8. Use an online password manager tool

If you’re using the same password for all your accounts, then, prepare yourself to be the next victim. If someone finds one of your login details, he can access your social media profiles, and credit card account easily if he wants.

On the other side, if you want to create a unique password for each website, you will never be able to remember them all.

Things become impossible with dozens of accounts. However, the solution is simple, you shouldn’t remember any password. Yes, that’s the ideal way to protect your online accounts. There are many tools that you can add to your web browser, and they let you generate a secure and complicated password instantly.

These tools save every piece of information that you enter, like login details, and store them with the latest security software.

One of these tools is LastPass, it’s free, and they have premium accounts for business users. Best of all, it’s a trusted company that you can use.

Password protection tool

9. Protect your camera and microphone

People can use many ways to steal your information. But, the most dangerous thing is to record you through your own WebCam.

If you’re willing to add simple paper or something like that to make your camera disabled, then, you’re just wasting time and making things dangerous. There are many tools that can record your microphone, and even, the screen itself.

The best method to isolate your Cam and microphone is to use this Camera and Microphone Anti-spyware tool. It’s a complete spy blocker that will save your life.

10. Never open emails asking to reset your password

How many times have you received emails from people claiming that they are PayPal? If not yet, then you’re lucky. Keep in mind that those people use the name of your trusted company and ask you to reset your password. Some of them will add some tactical words, like “urgently”, ”click the link”, “act now”, and others.

They just want to make you feel that your account is not safe. And, of course, when you click that link, you will be redirected to their software that steals your password and emails.

To verify the sender, compare the sender’s email with the company URL, and you can find answers. If all seems OK and you have a doubt because you’ve never asked to change your password, then, contact the company’s customer support, and ask them if they are the real sender or not. You will protect yourself and millions of other people by doing that.

If the company finds that it was a new scammer that used their name, they will declare it and protect people. Do you see? When you protect yourself, you protect others, at the same time.

Bonus tip

Never use public WiFi to log into any account. Believe it or not, there is no such thing called ”safe public WiFi” in the world. Everyone with skills and software can access and intercept people’s data when they access their accounts using that network. Use a proxy, a VPN, or whatever you want, nothing can protect your data, and people with a smartphone can see your password and email logins if they want. So, apply the above tips, and everything will be fine.

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About Fathi Arfaoui

Fathi Arfaoui is a Physicist, Blogger and the founder of Trustiko.com. He shares Business, WordPress and Blogging tips to build a better blog and succeed online.

Disclosure: The recommendations on this page are my own based on my tests and analysis. We may earn a small commission from web hosts and other partners if you use my referral link to make a purchase. That’s what helps us to maintain the site and add fresh content, Thanks for your support.

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