How to avoid online scams

It seems like we are always hearing about online scams and how they have cost people huge sums of money, or even their identities in some extreme cases, but don't let them put you off using the internet. There are a number of things that you can do to ensure you don't fall victim to these scams, and we're going to look at some of them today.

Always be careful!

No matter how comfortable you are using the internet, or how much experience you have, you need to make sure that you take the utmost care at all times while surfing the net.

Most online scams try to trick the users into believing they are using a website that they are not, or that they are speaking to someone who is in desperate need of their help in order to appeal to their charitable side.

The most common online scams are known as phishing scams. What happens with these scams, is that the user is sent an email claiming to be from a popular website or bank. The user is urged that they need to log into their account in order to rectify some anomaly, or to show that they are still active users.

Rather than linking them to the actual website however, these scams direct the user to a site that looks identical to the original site, but when the user enters their log in information, it is sent to the scam artist, enabling them to access the user's bank or website account.

How can I avoid this?

The easiest way to ensure that this never happens to you is to keep a close eye on the address bar at the top of your browser. If, for example, you get an email claiming to be from PayPal, a popular online payment website, the address at the top should always be paypal.com, and it should always have https:// in front of the address.

Scam websites usually look similar to the actual address at a glance, but upon careful examination it becomes clear that they are not what they claim to be.

Better safe than sorry

To be absolutely positive that you don't fall victim to online scams, we recommend you never follow any unsolicited links emailed to you. Your bank, for example, will never email you to ask for your account information. If you receive an email of this nature, we recommend forwarding it your your bank's customer service email address, before deleting it entirely.

If a bank or payment company like PayPal needs to get in touch with you urgently, they have your phone number and your postal address, so they will contact you via those methods.

If you are even slightly unsure about an email you receive, simply delete it. Never take unnecessary risks online.

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