Outsmarting Computer Scams

We’ve talked previously about the different types of dangers that can threaten your computer. Malware, adware, spyware, and viruses can all cause havoc with your system. However, these malicious types of software are not the only avenues through which a computer hacker can access your information. If you use a computer network that is attached to the Internet, it is important to take some precautionary steps to avoid some of the most common types of computer scams. By knowing how to avoid or block them, you can keep your and your clients information safe.

SPAM is one of the most common types of Internet scams. Not only is SPAM annoying, clogging up your inbox, it can also carry types of the malicious software that can attack your computer. Here are a few easy steps to decrease the amount of SPAM that reaches your inbox.

The first step is to protect your information. Do not share any of your personal information, including your phone number and email account, with people or organizations that are unfamiliar to you. If you want to set up a bank account online, be sure you do so by using a video identification service to reduce fraud. Scammers often will offer you a free gift in exchange for your information, opening up your inbox to an onslaught of SPAM, so protect those as well.

The next step is to up your protection. Your email service should be equipped with a SPAM filter. Set the filters to the highest level possible, making it harder for unwanted emails to get through. If an email lands in your inbox from an unknown party, be wary about opening it and never click on any of the links or open any attachments.

Some email scams to be on the lookout for are chain letters, phishing, lottery scams, and scareware. Chain letters, while promising bad luck if you do not send it on, can be full of malicious code that is spread from one computer to the next as it is passed. Phishing is when scammers pretend to be sent from reputable companies (such as banks) and ask for your personal data. While they can look extremely legitimate, it’s always best to contact the company directly if you ever receive such a request. The lottery scam is an email that says you’ve been picked to win a large prize and asks you to click on a link. Finally there is scareware, a pop-up that claims that there is something potentially dangerous on your computer that the scammers program will “fix” for a fee.

The final step to avoid scamming is to actually make sure that you are not spamming others. Often hackers will break into email accounts and send out spam to all its contacts. If you think your email account has been hacked, immediately change your password and run a virus scan on your computer to ensure that your security has not been compromised.