Monday, July 16, 2012

Protect yourself against Internet scams

After I helped a friend of mine deal with an Internet scam this weekend, I felt compelled to write a brief blog and make others aware.

This friend was doing some work on his computer and all the sudden this message came up on his screen that said he had been blocked from his PC for "at least one of the reasons specified below". It also stated that in order to unblock the PC he needed to pay a $200 fine through MoneyPak within the next 72 hours.

This is a scam!

Now, in defense of my friend he does have virus software installed. However, let’s face it folks, the virus checking software and malware is only as good as its updates. And they will ALWAYS be behind the Internet scam artist and hacker. Plus, if you don’t have the software scanning every second something is bound to get through.

How can you prevent things like this?

I’m not certain you can prevent everything. Heck! I am probably more cautious than a great many people are and I got a malware on my PC about six months ago.

One thing we did on my friend’s PC is to download a second malware software package. That actually found even more issues that we cleaned up. Thank goodness!

We installed the latest security patches for his operating system and applications. We also changed his Internet security settings.

I suggested that they password protect everything with a strong password and explained that a strong password is at least 8 characters long with a combination of letters and numbers and even funny characters, and to NEVER use a word that can be pound in the dictionary or anything to do with their families names or birthdates. Never use the same password for everything.

These are just a few of the things we did to improve his chances of not getting another malware software on the computer.

But, this is not enough. You have to be aware of the sites you are visiting on the Internet. There are some sites that are links to sites that download software to your machine without you even knowing. Even software that doesn’t do damage to your computer, but tracks sites you visit and the information you type in.

NEVER, I can’t say this enough, NEVER click on a link in an email unless it is from someone you know. And even then beware. If a friend of yours send you links to jokes on a regular basis, do they usually send a quick note in the email? If they do and all the sudden you get an email with just a link and now words. DO NOT click it!

Your bank will NEVER send you an email! You will NEVER be the beneficiary of some great fortune via email! The FBI will NEVER contact you via email!

If your computer monitor starts flashing at you and screaming that you need to buy some software right away to get rid of some virus or send money to get yourself all fixed up again, it’s a SCAM! These malware places want your information. They want to steal your money, they want to steal your identity.

Hint: If you get an email from a company you do not know, it’s probably fake. If the email is misspelled, it is probably fake. If the message does not have your name in it, but calls you Sir or Mr. So and So, then this is NOT real. It’s a scam!

If the email says you need to hurry and click the link to clear up some issue with your account, it is NOT real. It’s a scam!

Please, even companies like Yahoo get hacked, like they did last week. A great many people had accounts compromised due to this lack of security at Yahoo.

Change your passwords, make them a strong password, and do not use the same one for every account. Whatever you do, do not save that account information on your computer. Once some malware has the chance, it will take that information and pass it along to the Internet scammer or hacker.

Take care, be smart and cautious! If you have any doubts, DO NOT click it!


James Ward September 1, 2012 at 8:46 AM  

Nice tips. Some of them seem so obvious - like not clicking on a link that came from somebody you don't know - but many people do it not understanding the potential consequences it could have.

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