An ever-expanding digital world has created boundless opportunities for all, including digital criminals. Digital fraud has increased tenfold over the last five years, becoming ever more sophisticated and brazen in its attacks on consumers, leading to identity theft and financial loss. To protect yourself from digital fraud, you must become your first line of defense by educating yourself to identify scams when they present themselves and then take appropriate actions to avoid them.
Here are the most common types of digital fraud you are likely to encounter:
Phishing or Spoofing
Phishing is the process of sending emails for the purpose of collecting your personal information through a legitimate-looking website. The email typically encourages you to click on a link that directs you to a website to update your personal information. Spoofing is a more sophisticated version of phishing in which the fraudsters disguise an email to look as if it came from someone you know.
Another way fraudsters try to extract personal information is through a pop-up window that appears over a window you are viewing on your digital device. They look like legitimate ads, but if you click on them, you will be directed to a fraudulent website. Oftentimes, these pop-ads entice you with offers of free prizes.
Spyware and Viruses
When you click on a link sent through a phishing email or pop-up window, it could download spyware or a virus onto your electronic device. Spyware can track your activities, including your keystrokes, to uncover personal information and passwords. Viruses can infect your computers and networks and plant encryptions that lock up your data. An increasing number of online users are falling victim to ransomware viruses.
Ways to Protect Yourself from Digital Fraud
- Closely scrutinize suspicious emails. Never click on a link until you have confirmed who the sender is.
- Activate a pop-up window blocker. Search for free programs that offer pop-up window blockers.
- Scan your computer for spyware frequently. Look for a spyware removal program that regularly scans your computer to identify and remove malicious spyware and adware.
- Update your anti-virus software. If you have a good anti-virus program, it should provide regular updates because viruses are always mutating. Make sure your computer operating system is updated regularly.
- Don’t download any program from an unknown source. Hide your passwords. Use an online password vault that will automatically encrypt your passwords.