Being so reliant on the Internet these days, it is extremely important to stay safe as there are a lot of scams out there just waiting to catch up slipping up. Hackers target us online in various ways, through websites, phishing emails and fake links and they are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methodology.
In this minefield of hackers and online scams, how can we keep ourselves safe in such an environment? We have some tips to help you avoid online scams and falling victim to online fraud.
Avoid releasing personal information
Do not give out the following personal details until you are sure the website is credible and secure:
- Full name, or any part of your name or initials
- Email address
- Phone number
- Bank Details (!!)
To check if a site is secure, look out for a ‘Secure’ icon featuring a padlock left-hand corner of the search bar on your browser. Also, if the web address starts with ‘https://’ it will be secure as the ‘s’ starts for secure.
Other ways to check security include looking out for a real address and local phone number on the header and footer of the websites. Of course, this could easily be added but provides a lot more credibility than an address overseas or a PO Box number.
Protect your password
To avoid online scammers stealing personal information, you should keep your password private and make sure it is strong. Typically, a strong password will be a minimum of 8 characters long and contains a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
In addition, you should aim to use a different password for each online account – a variant of the same password works also, with different numbers of symbols.
Know how to spot a Phishing Email
A traditional method used by scammers is the phishing email. Essentially, a phishing email is cleverly designed to trick people into handing over money or personal details which will help the scammer obtain their assets.
Furthermore, cybercriminals aim to install malicious software on to your computer, by offering a legitimate looking link or attachment as part of a phishing email. If clicked, this will install this software directly on to your device and the scammers have access to your personal details. It is crazy how genuine these emails can look – as long as your o not click the link or download the file, you will be fine. Simply receiving an email will not endanger you, but delete it as of immediately.
Check the FCA register
In order to see if a website which you come across is safe to use and will not result in a scam, you can check if they are FCA registered. If you are looking to take out a loan, for example, you can check up on payday loans direct lenders to see if they are in fact on the FCA register.
In addition, for high cost loans, it is a regulator requirement to be listed on a comparison site like Quiddi Compare or All The Lenders. In fact, this could be a good place to start your search as they have been fully authorised by the FCA.
A company being on the FCA register means that they have to adhere to a certain standard and you can remain ensured that you will not be a victim of a scammed or be mistreated in any way.
Look out for reviews
If you are unsure about whether a website you are dealing with is likely to scam you, use Google to search for reviews on Google Business, Trustpilot and Feefo. Whether it is positive or indeed negative reviews, it shouldn’t take you long to find out whether the website is legitimate and truthful in the products they claim to offer.