We’ve all had that suspicious looking email show up in our inbox or that pop-up on a website promising us millions in easy money. A royal prince needs you to hold on to his fortune in exchange for a massive reward, an old lady needs your help protecting her inheritance, ‘SARS’ wants to give you a large sum of money… all in exchange for a few personal details.
Some are more subtle than others but they all have one thing in common – they are out to steal your money or use your personal information for identity fraud. This is phishing – an attempt through electronic communication to acquire sensitive, personal information (such as ID numbers, user names, passwords or banking details) for malicious reasons.
So, what can you do to stop these scammers from taking you for a ride? Start with these tips:
- Guard against answering spam emails: Be cautious if you receive an email from a strange/unrecognisable address or one that asks you to supply or confirm personal information. Emails that use scare tactics to push you into action should also raise a red flag. Delete these and block the sender from your inbox.
- Don’t share your personal information in an email: Legitimate suppliers e.g. banks have safety and privacy measures in place to ensure your details are kept private and your personal finances are protected. They will require passwords and telephonic confirmation of selected facts to conduct any transactions. Most will not ask you to share this kind of information online. In cases where you’re conducting business online, be sure that the site is secure – look for a lock sign at the top of the page or ‘https’ in the URL which tells you the site is a secure one.
- Watch those links: Be wary of links or pop-ups that ask for your personal information on websites you may know or trust. Phishing websites often copy entire legitimate websites so that they look authentic. Don’t enter any sensitive information on a pop-up or click on a link you’re not sure of. A legitimate company wouldn’t ask you to submit personal information via a pop-up. If you are unsure about any online transaction, contact the company and confirm what is required and why.
Online business offers many opportunities but it also offers the unscrupulous a chance to prey on trusting individuals. Don’t be a victim – exercise awareness and common sense and don’t share if it doesn’t feel rig