identify and protect yourself from internet scams

Scammers used to contact us by phone, or even by mail, but now they have shifted their primary focus to the Internet. You may think you would never fall for one of these scams, but trusting the wrong person can be easier than you think. If you know what to look for, however, the warning signs are easy to spot. The steps below advise you on how to spot a potential scam as well as how to avoid falling for one.

Remember: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

This rule speaks for itself. Perhaps someone you don’t know emails you with “secret information” on an investment opportunity. If you receive any such questionable offer, you should thoroughly research the offer before making a rash decisions. If the offer is legitimate, online resources should back up the claim. If it’s not, chances are that someone else has likely dealt with the scam before—they may have shared their experience online. You can’t be too careful when it comes to verifying the facts before making a financial decision.

Verify identities

A seemingly reputable company may contact you via email, but you should always take a closer look, especially if anything looks suspicious. Even if you recognize a logo or an area code, the company may not be legitimate.

Things to look out for:

  • Poor grammar and spelling
  • Wrong name or a generic greeting (i.e. “Dear friend”)
  • A request for any sort of personal information
  • A fake phone number or an incomplete address

Be wary of attachments or pop-ups

A legitimate company will almost never send an unsolicited attachment in an email. If an email from someone you don’t know contains an attachment, just delete the email immediately without clicking the attachment. You should also avoid clicking on pop-ups. One popular scam is for a pop-up to warn you that your computer has locked or that it contains inappropriate content. These pop-ups will often not disappear even if you click on them. The pop-up will often provide a number to call, and the person on the other line will ask for personal information in order to get rid of the threat. If you receive one of these, don’t panic. Restart your computer, and the message should disappear.

Always trust your gut

The threat of malicious people on the Internet is a scary one, but if you’re careful, there’s no need to worry about any sort of risk. If you find yourself facing anything that sets off a warning bell, simply look it up before taking any action.  As long as you recognize the potential signs of a scam, you can enjoy your Internet browsing without worry.