5 Online Fraud Prevention Tips
Fraudsters have always been a part of the world. They want to lure you in with a deal that sounds too good to be true, only to trick you into overpaying, robbing you, or stealing your personal details. The last one is a modern addition thanks to computers, smartphones, and the internet, and it’s becoming more common. The number of data breaches, successful phishing attacks, and online frauds is increasing every year. Now, both businesses and individuals are at risk.
Being aware of everything that could happen to you online is crucial. When visiting a tourist spot with loads of pickpockets, you carry your money in your shoe or bring an empty wallet to trick them. The thing that prevents you from getting your money stolen is information. Using the same practice online will save you from online fraud. Here are some prevention tips that could be of help.
Don’t believe everything you see on the internet
This is rule number one. Treat everything on the internet as fake until you have an actual, verifiable proof for it. It’s easy to make a Deepfake video of the President saying something untrue. Now we’re living in times where seeing doesn’t equal believing. Artificial intelligence software makes it impossible to recognize which video and audio representations are accurate.
That’s only one part of the spectrum. On the other side, images and news headlines are blatant lies. Editing photos is a piece of cake; anyone can create a fake headline in a matter of minutes. Always verify sources before you trust anything on the internet.
Don’t click on attachments
One of the most expensive data breaches happened because one tech developer clicked and downloaded an attachment. That single mistake cost his company more than 500 million dollars. A fake profile contacted him on LinkedIn that offered him a job with lucrative benefits. As soon as he downloaded the PDF, they infiltrated his device and compromised the company.
Always treat everyone that contacts you online as an imposter. You shouldn’t click on links or attachments that you receive from unknown emails. Triple-check whether the domain is real because hackers are increasingly trying to impersonate real people.
Hover on URLs and check for grammar before you proceed
The reason why so many scams are successful is that people are greedy. For example, the Discord channel of the NFT game Illuvium got hacked, and the scammers posted that you could buy as many 500 limited characters as you want. The principle was first come, first serve. People immediately clicked on the link and connected their crypto wallets, only to see them drained from their holdings in the next few minutes.
The website they opened was a mirror of the original one, and the domain name was spelled Illuviunn, which most people didn’t even notice. Whenever you see bad grammar, a lot of spelling mistakes, something off about the site, or mixed letters in the URL, it’s better to avoid clicking on it.
Don’t download random apps
The Play Store and the App Store have millions of applications available. Not all of them are trying to help you. Before you download something, check the reviews, especially the ones with the lowest ratings. Those tend to be the most honest, and you can be sure real people left them. It’s easy to fake thousands of positive reviews, which is why you shouldn’t even bother reading those.
Furthermore, if the app seems shady or underdeveloped and asks you to enter personal details, it’s better to delete it immediately. You should be extra careful if you’ve got an Android phone or a Windows computer. In these operating systems, everything can be faked.
Don’t connect to public networks
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Airports, train stations, coffee shops, and tourist spots are well known for their free internet. Don’t connect to the Wi-Fi unless you’ve got a VPN installed. Hackers could lurk nearby, and they often wait for victims to connect and steal all of their money and personal information. You won’t notice a thing for weeks until your entire bank account gets drained one day.
How to protect yourself?
Even the best of us can make a mistake. Doctors study for years, and they can make mistakes when concluding a diagnosis or performing an operation. That’s why we need a bit of outside help from technology. The optimal way to prevent online fraud is always to use a VPN. There’s a VPN app for iPhone, Android, and desktop devices.
This software hides your IP address while browsing the internet and makes you appear private. Not only that, but some services offer additional features that block trackers, check the websites you visit, and scan the files you download for malware or spyware. This way, even if something slips through your defenses, the VPN will catch it.