Online scams are becoming increasingly difficult to spot, but there are still some simple steps you can take to keep your cash and personal information safe.
We used to think that it was only the gullible and the old who were susceptible to online scams, but now, as the scammers become increasingly creative and sophisticated, we’re finding that anyone can fall victim to a scam.
Recent research reported by Wonga South Africa found that 22% of those who banked online had been duped by a scam, showing just how widespread the problem is. But while scams are becoming increasingly difficult to spot, there are still some simple steps that you can take to keep your cash and your personal information safe.
- Save and store your passwords on free software
The safest way to keep all of your online accounts safe is to use a unique password every time. Remembering them all is impossible and resetting your password whenever you want to log in can be hugely frustrating. So what’s the solution? Try a password manager.
Free software is available that can generate and store unique passwords for all of your various accounts. Here are some of the best password managers out there that you can use for free.
- Install free antivirus software on your computer
Another simple but essential step is to make sure you install antivirus software on your computer and keep it updated. You should also keep your web browser up to date. Antivirus software will help to prevent your computer from being infected with malware and other viruses that can wreak havoc with your PC and put your personal details at risk.
- Beware of dodgy links
Before you click on any hyperlink, always do a quick check to make sure it’s genuine. The actual text used to create the link can be made to say anything, so always hover over the link with the mouse first, without clicking, and look at the bottom of your screen to see the web address of the site the link will take you to. Dodgy websites can often have very similar addresses to genuine sites, so read it carefully and look for any additional characters. If in doubt, ignore the link and navigate your own way to the site via an online search.
- Never give out your personal details over email
No genuine website will ever message you and ask you to provide sensitive personal information, such as a password or PIN number, via email or text. It will also never send an email with a link to a page that asks you to enter your online banking details. Here are eight things that your bank or any other genuine website would never ask you to do online.
- Always check that your payment is secure
Whenever you buy anything online, always check that the site is secure. If it is, you’ll be able to see a padlock symbol on the left-hand side of the web address bar. You should also make sure that the web address starts with ‘https’ rather than just ‘http’. Although this won’t guarantee the site isn’t a scam, at least any data you enter will be encrypted, which will make it much more difficult to intercept.
- Be wary of urgent deadlines
One tactic favoured by scammers is to give a situation a sense of urgency so prospective victims don’t have the time to think clearly about what they’re being asked to do or contact family and friends for advice. When it comes to the online world, nothing needs to be done immediately. If you think your account might have been hacked, call the number on the back of your bank statement and never be hurried into doing anything over the phone.
Have you ever been the victim of an online scam? Please share your experiences with our readers in the comments below.