Hackers are constantly finding new and clever ways of stealing personal information from both consumers and businesses (especially small businesses). Internet scams are becoming one of the top committed crimes in the country due to hacker’s ability to remain fairly anonymous, connection to millions of people, and being hard to trace. An individual can be hacked and have no idea until something drastic happens. Businesses and consumers need to make their safety a priority. In order to do this, they must understand the severity of hacking, educate themselves on various hacking/scamming methods, and be aware of basic ways that they can protect themselves from being victims of internet scams.
1. Always question suspicious links & email attachments.
We have all received a suspicious email or pop up at some point in time. These are potential phishing scams. Hackers love this method because they can catch people off guard by seeming authentic and/or striking fear in people. A perfect example is seeing a popup saying your computer has a virus and you need to “click this link to fix it”. An unaware person may feel troubled by the pop up and click the link without hesitation due to fear. That one click can make you susceptible to having your personal information stolen.
2. Make sure your operating system, hardware, and software are always up to date.
Hacking methods are always changing, but so are ways of preventing them. Your operating system, hardware, and software will have routine updates that may contain additional security measures. These measures will make it difficult for hackers to get any of your information. Not every update will make you more secure, but just to be safe make sure you have everything up to date.
3. Avoid weak passwords
Creating weak passwords can be tempting because you want your password to be something simple that you can easily remember and not waste much time typing, but a weak password can make it easier for scammers to access your information. It is recommended that a password should be at least 8 characters that include capital letters and numbers. You should also avoid having a password with your name or one of your interests and make sure all of your passwords are different.
4. Research companies before you give them information or money
When dealing with a company that you aren’t familiar with, it is important to learn more about the company and their legitimacy. Look up the company and try to find anything regarding their background, products/services, reviews, and any signs of fraud. If you feel something about a company is questionable, it is best to avoid them and rely on a company you are more familiar with.
5. Don’t share important financial information
Always use your judgement when providing certain personal information. The odds of a legitimate company asking you for your social security number or bank account information is highly unlikely.
6. Report any potential fraud
If you feel you have potentially been scammed, don’t ignore it or delay in taking action. Report it immediately so you can
resolve the situation as soon as possible. If you think you are a victim of an internet scam, you can report it to the FBI by visiting https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx