Most of us who are active users of the internet use it for services involving financial transactions and / or the use of personal data such as bank account / credit card details, user names and passwords etc. Whether it is checking your account balances, transferring your money, making bill payments or even shopping online, the use of internet helps you save time, effort and in most cases even money. The convenience and value associated with these services can come at a very high price if one is not careful. Keeping in mind some of these simple tips can go a long way in making your online experience secure and help prevent online fraud:
- Always use a secure network connection
Make sure that any online activity that involves a financial transaction or the use of any personal information such as usernames and passwords is carried out using a secure network connection. Do not pay any bills, bank or shop online using a public or shared computer or devices such as laptops and mobile phones that are on a public network. Ensure that if you have a wireless connection at home, then it is password encrypted.
- Type the web address yourself
Never use a link made available in emails, text messages, or pop-up advertisements etc. as these can potentially be fraudulent attempts to take you to websites that look legitimate but are not. Type in the address of the website yourself or use your own favourites/bookmarks.
- Ensure that the website is safe
Before entering any sensitive data on any website make sure that website is secure and uses encryption. Simple signs to check this are the website address starting with ‘https’ (s for secure) instead of the usual ‘http’ and the presence of a closed ‘lock’ besides the URL or at the right hand bottom of the screen.
- Use virtual keyboards
Use of virtual keyboards for entering your sensitive information such as username and passwords can be useful in protecting you from any virus that might have infected your computer with the ability to capture your keyboard strokes. At the same time, it is always beneficial to protect your computer from such threats by having updated and current virus protection software.
- Do not respond to any ‘phishing’ emails
Phishing is an attempt to ‘fish’ for your personal details. Never respond to any email messages that ask you to provide or confirm any account details, usernames or passwords or any other personal identification information. Some of these emails may appear to be from legitimate sources but remember no financial institution that takes the security of its customer’s financial and personal information seriously will ever ask for such information to be provided on emails.
Do not fall for offers that seem too good to be true – they are not. These offers may include an assured gift or prize, financial or otherwise, contingent upon you providing some personal information as an authentication measure. Do not open any suspicious emails and if you have, do not click on any links or attachments that they may contain. Some common signs of ‘phishing’ emails are:
- Emails requiring immediate and urgent action or response.
- Those with generic greetings such as ‘Dear Customer’ – this is a sign that the sender does not know you and may not be trustworthy
- Misspellings and grammatical errors, including in web address links. The Web address might look very similar to the address of a legitimate business, but with minor alterations. For example, instead of www.abnamrobank.com, the link might be for www.abnamrobnk.com.
- Check your account balances regularly
Whether it is your bank account or your credit card, it is advisable to check your balances regularly to ensure you can detect any fraudulent transaction at the earliest. Early detection of fraud can help minimise your losses and help you take preventive action.
Being aware of these simple tips and making those around you equally informed can go a long way in ensuring a secure online experience and preventing online fraud.
(c) i-save.com 2010