Navigating the online sphere can be a big challenge, particularly if you are someone not overly clear on what the threats are and how to target them. If you fall into this category and want to take steps to increase your online safety and reduce the risk of fraud, here are some key tips to follow.
1. Stay up-to-date with the ever-changing phishing scams.
The ways criminals try to get their hands on your information and cash are constantly evolving. Every time companies and consumers take steps to close loopholes; they come up with ever-evolving workarounds. Some scams you can fall prey to are incredibly sophisticated, meaning even the savviest individual might be convinced. They can mimic company websites exactly, fake email addresses and phone numbers, and can use sophisticated techniques to get information out of you.
As a consumer, you must stay on top of what kind of scams are being used, and you prepare yourself to look out for them. You can use many different blogs and online sites, and you can find a wealth of information on sites like Reddit and even Facebook, as well as by using Google. Arming yourself with the knowledge to weed out the crooks and protect yourself is one of the best things you can do when fighting online fraud.
2. Install IP lookup tools on your websites/blogs to trace bad actors and traffic (LI)
If you have your own website or blog page, you might be aware that bad actors and bots enjoy causing trouble. This can come in the form of offensive comments, spam, or overloading your website, causing downtime and crashes. It can also mean hackers target your site to gain access and take it over.
An IP lookup tool is an excellent solution for those who are not overly tech-savvy: it allows the website owner to have oversight of each visitor to the site based on their IP address. In addition, this tool can assess the validity of an IP address, check addresses against blacklists of spammy content, and detect proxy servers, geolocation, domain, and hostname.
These kinds of tools can be used on their own or in conjunction with other methods to understand more about visitors to a site and to help fight back against fraud. An IP lookup tool is a great place to start for those who want to protect their websites, businesses, or other visitors.
3. Create secure passwords – regularly change them.
One of the most common ways nefarious actors gain access to your accounts is not through any kind of high-tech hacking. It is done, simply by guessing your password. According to CNBC, the world’s most popular and most-used passwords are qwerty, password, 12345, and various similar combinations. Many will also use things like their maiden name, which can easily be found online, famous musicians, or footballers’ names. These can be easy for criminals to guess, mainly if they know something about the user. The other issue is that once we have a password, we don’t change it often enough.
To make matters worse, we reuse the same password across multiple platforms, meaning once a criminal has accessed one account, they can access all of them. This is a significant problem and can result in considerable losses and financial detriment to unsuspecting public members. The best way to avoid situations like this is to create secure passwords, change them regularly, and have a different one for each account.
Online password generators can create strong and unique passwords for you, which can then be used for each account. You should try and change your password every three months, four as a maximum. An easy way to remember to do this is by when you change your password to something substantial, scheduling a calendar reminder to change it three to four months in the future. This is one of the best ways to ensure your accounts remain safe and secure.
4. Know who is asking
Many of us are inundated with emails, SMS, and even phone calls that ask us to reveal personal information or follow links to confirm our details. In the vast majority of cases, these will be false and created by criminals who want to trick you.
Any reputable company will not ask you to reveal personal information over the phone or via email. Furthermore, you should be wary of any communications asking you to reset your password, confirm card details, or hand over other information.
The best advice is to deal with each of these requests with suspicion. First, check the email address or number that is being sent- you can search online to see if they have been flagged as suspicious.
Also, make sure they match up with other correspondence from the company. Then, contact the company yourself via the number or email you have used to get them previously and try to verify the recent communication. If possible, send a copy to customer service or your account manager so they can let you know if it is legitimate or not.
5. Protect your devices
In 2022, most of us will have a range of electronic devices that we use to access the internet and carry out various tasks. These include mobile phones, tablets, laptops, PCs, Smart TVs, eReaders such as Kindle, smartwatches, and home assistants. Many of these devices require us to link them to email accounts, cards, and payment gateways.
We also regularly give them our personal data such as names, addresses, logins and passwords, photos, videos, mobile numbers, and even preferences. This kind of information, if it ends up in the wrong hands, can be devastating, as ICO.org notes.
It can result in identity theft, fraud, and other issues, costing a lot of time, money, and peace. To combat this, it is necessary to take steps to secure and protect your devices. For example, ensure every device you have is secured with a strong password, biometrics, and two-factor authentication. You should also be cautious about logging out of specific devices and accounts on devices when not in use.
It is also worth looking at various security software and anti-virus products that can provide additional protection to you and your data. There are many options on the market that are both easy to use and affordable. Last but not least, many devices such as mobiles, tablets, and PCs have inbuilt software that can assess security for any loopholes or imminent risks, notifying you of steps you need to take to fix them.