An ever-expanding digital world has created boundless opportunities for all, including digital criminals. Digital fraud cases have doubled over the last several years as scammers become ever more sophisticated and brazen in their attacks on consumers, leading to identity theft and financial loss. To protect yourself from digital fraud, you must become your own first line of defense by learning to identify scams when they present themselves and take appropriate actions to avoid them. Below are some of the most common types of digital fraud you are likely to encounter.
Digital Fraud Types
Phishing or Spoofing
Phishing is the process of sending emails for the purpose of collecting your personal information through a legitimate-looking website. The email typically encourages you to click on a link that directs you to a website to update some piece of info. Spoofing is a more sophisticated version of phishing in which the fraudsters disguise an email to look as if it came from someone you know.
Another way fraudsters try to extract personal information is through pop-up windows that appear when browsing on a your digital device. They look like legitimate ads, but if you click on them, you will be directed to a fraudulent website. Often, these pop-up ads entice you with offers of free prizes.
Spyware and Viruses
When you click on a link sent through a phishing email or pop-up window, it could download spyware or a virus onto your electronic device. Spyware can track your activities, including your keystrokes, to uncover personal information and passwords. Viruses can infect your computers and networks and plant encryptions that lock up your data. An increasing number of online users are falling victim to ransomware viruses.
Scammers may attempt to pass themselves off as tech support professionals who have found a problem with your computer. You may receive a phone call or a website ad claiming to have detected malware on your computer and offering a program to remove it.
Ways to Protect Yourself from Digital Fraud
- Closely scrutinize suspicious emails. Never click on a link until you have confirmed who the sender is.
- Activate a pop-up window blocker. Search for free browser extensions that offer pop-up window blockers.
- Scan your computer for spyware frequently. Look for a spyware removal program that regularly scans your computer to identify and remove invasive or malicious programs.
- Update your anti-virus software. If you have a good anti-virus program, it should provide regular updates because viruses are always mutating. Make sure your computer operating system is updated regularly.
- Don’t download any program from an unknown source. Always research any program you plan on putting on your computer and never download a file from website you don’t trust.
- Hide your passwords. Use an online password vault, such as Roboform or Lastpass, that will automatically encrypt your passwords.
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