Your best defense against online fraud and computer viruses is education and discipline.
1. Verify the validity of the sender and legitimacy of the request.
2. Never input personal or banking information online without checking that the website is in a “secured” environment. Look for an “https://” in the website address line (URL) at the top of your browser. The ‘s’ in “https://” denotes that the Internet session is secured by encryption to keep the information you transmit online protected from unauthorized users. In addition, a locked padlock symbol in the bottom right corner of your Internet browser window also indicates that an Internet session is secured through encryption. But be aware that even secure sites can be spoofed to include the “https://” prefix and locked padlock.
3. Typical phishing requests are not personalized. Unlike your own bank or credit card company, who may include your name and/or an account identifier or type, phishing requests typically keep the salutation and information about you generic.
4. Remember: Credit card issuers and financial institutions would not ask you to send or verify your password, Social Security number, or PIN within an e-mail message. Again, only provide information that you initiate through an application, an online transaction, or through the normal log-in/sign-up process.
5. Be suspicious of numerical web addresses or URLs. Typically, a company’s web address or URL includes part or a portion of the company name followed by .com, .org, or .net. A spoof site that uses a numerical web address (or an IP address) or includes an “@” sign within the address could be a tip-off that the site is fraudulent.
6. Become familiar with the websites you frequently visit and bookmark these sites.
7. Phony e-mails or websites may try to fool you by looking official, but if you notice any of these or other suspicious indicators, please forward it immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are some additional tips that will help to ensure your online security:
- Protect your passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) by keeping them confidential.
- Keep your web browser software up-to-date with the latest version and security updates.
- If you have a high speed internet connection (i.e. cable modem, DSL), it is helpful to install personal firewall software to ensure that hackers cannot get access to any sensitive information stored on your computer.
- All computer users should install anti-virus software that can be automatically updated with information on the newest harmful viruses.
- Do not open or download e-mail attachments if you have any doubts about the sender or the nature of the attachment. Many viruses are distributed this way and if opened, could damage your computer or access your sensitive information.