Simple tips to avoid online fraud


Think you’re safe from online fraud? Don't be so sure.
Sarah Twomey | Desjardins Group

If you think you're safe from online fraud, don't be so sure. The fact is that cyber-criminals are constantly refining their methods. With October being Cybersecurity month, here are some tips to help protect yourself and your family: 

Fraudulent email and phishing
Never click on a link that you're not sure of, and never give personal information by email. A little well-placed doubt will save you a world of trouble. These email messages will include a hyperlink which appears to be authentic, but leads to a phony version of your financial institution's website (for example). From this fake website, pirates can copy the personal information of their victims and use it to steal their money. Be aware that financial institutions will never communicate with you via email for any of the above reasons.

If you receive an email like this, do not reply to the email, do not click on any included links, and do not open any attached documents. A fraudulent email will urge you to act quickly under the pretext that:
  • You are a finalist or winner of a contest
  • Your account may have been subject to unauthorized access (e.g., a time and IP address may even be provided)
  • You must update your personal information or your account will be frozen or deleted
  • Your account was used for fraud and you will be held accountable
  • You must sign up for an online security feature
  • A simple accounting error has been made and corrected (in this case, you are not asked to do anything except click on a link to a phony website) etc.
Don't forget: If you have replied or believe you have replied to a fraudulent email message, change your passwords immediately on all of the websites where you perform transactions.

More scamming tools
Scammers use four kinds of "bugs" to accomplish their goals:
  • A virus is a small program designed to self-replicate on other computers, like a biological virus that spreads from one person to another. It may hinder the proper operation of the infected computer.
  • A worm uses a computer's resources to replicate and spread to other computers over the Internet.
  • A Trojan horse a seemingly legitimate program that executes harmful actions without a user's authorization.
  • Spyware gathers personal information about a user without authorization and sends it to a third party.
The best protection
  • Protect your personal information by creating a password that is hard to guess but easy to remember. Avoid using passwords like your date of birth or passwords that are easy to type like 123abc.
  • Don't use the same password for all of your sites.
  • Install a security program that includes automatic updates, antivirus, anti-spyware and anti-spam software, and a firewall.
  • Protect your computer from new viruses and intrusion techniques through frequent updates of your operating system (Windows, MacOS, or Linux) and your web browser.
  • Avoid using public computers for making your transactions. If you must do so, remember to erase your information afterwards (clear the cache memory and close the browser).

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