How to practice ‘safe computing’
It’s not always easy to identify online fraud. The number and sophistication of phishing and spoofing scams sent out continues to increase. As a general rule, you should be careful about giving out your personal financial information over the Internet. Below is a list of recommendations you can use to avoid becoming a victim of these scams.
Protect your E-mail
Be suspicious of any e-mail with urgent requests for personal financial information and never respond to SPAM (unsolicited bulk e-mail messages). Responding only confirms your e-mail address to the spammer, which can actually intensify the problem.
If you are suspicious of an e-mail that contains a link to a web address, call the company or visit their website by typing their address directly into your browser. Do not click on the link contained within the body of the e-mail.
Phisher e-mails typically:
- Are not personalized and may contain spelling errors.
- Contain upsetting statements that attempt to get the victim to react immediately.
- Ask for information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, etc.
You should not open ANY attachments from an unknown source. In addition, attachments with double file endings, like “openme.doc.pif” or any file with an extension of .exe, .pif, or .vbs are executable files and could be dangerous if opened.
Protect your identity online
Only communicate information such as credit card numbers or account information via a secure website.
- To ensure a website is secure when submitting credit card information check the beginning of the web address in your browser’s address bar – it should be https:// rather than just http://
- If you don’t know the reputation of a website, don’t assume you can trust it. Many sites may be careless with your personal information.
- When making a purchase online, sites sometimes ask if you want to keep your credit card number or other confidential information on file, also known as “remembering” for future use. The best practice is to NOT allow sites to keep this information for you.
- When using Online Banking or other transactional websites, do not have the computer “remember” your password.
- If possible, do not use public computers (library, cyber café’s, etc) to check your Internet Banking or make purchases.
More Security Tips
- When creating passwords and PINs (personal identification numbers), do not use your Social Security Number, mother’s maiden name, your birth date, or other personal information about yourself. A combination of letters and numbers creates a stronger password.
- Change your passwords frequently.
- Always logout of your Internet Banking session or any other website that you’ve logged onto. In addition, when finished with the computer always sign off and shut down the computer.
- Many sites have timeout features where the session will end after a certain amount of time with no activity. Set your timeout feature at the lowest setting that is still convenient for you. This can prevent others from continuing your Internet Banking session if you left your computer unattended without logging out.
Additional information and resources with regard to consumer complaints, credit reports & financial resources are available at www.consumer.ftc.gov