Every day, people – called “phishers” - are out to steal your identity online. Are you helping them? You might be, and not even know it! Here are some questions that’ll help you sort through what’s safe and what’s not when you’re on the computer. These come from Money magazine.
- Question #1: A web address that starts with https rather than just http is a fraud. That “s” stands for “scam.” True or false? That’s FALSE. Actually, that “s” is a good thing. It means you’re at a “secure” site, and any information you send will be encrypted, or sent in some sort of code that only the recipient can read. However, you should test the encryption, just to be safe. Click on the lock icon that appears on your browser. If you get a warning that the site’s address doesn’t match the security certificate site, it could be a scam. Call the company directly to find out more. If you can’t locate a number, that’s another red flag.
- Question #2 : Am I more vulnerable if I’m on a social site like Facebook? If you have a Facebook account, or you’re on Linked In – YES, you are at risk! There’s even a special term for it called Spear Fishing. It means fraudsters are targeting you specifically because of information they found out about you on one of your webpages. So you may get a message from a phisher that makes them seem legit, like, “Hi John, we need additional information regarding the laptop you recently purchased.” So, be careful what you post about yourself on open sites, and keep your profiles on social networking sites private.
- Question #3: Let’s say you get an email from the IRS telling you what you need to do to collect your refund. You should “A”: Click on the link in the email and give them your info. Or “B”: Delete it? The answer is definitely “B”! Uncle Sam doesn’t send unsolicited emails to taxpayers. If you have a question about your tax refund, or a stimulus check – call the government directly. Never click on a link in an email that’s unsolicited.
Additionally, when it comes to URLs, look for a misspelling of the company’s name, a dash before the company’s name, or a series of numbers in the address. These are all signs of scammer sites.