Avoiding Internet Dangers

We’ve found some great tips on avoiding common Internet dangers that we wanted to share with our clients:

The FBI offers the following tips for Internet users:

·If you encounter an unsolicited e-mail that asks you, either directly, or through a web site, for personal financial or identity information, such as Social Security number, passwords, or other identifiers, exercise extreme caution.

·If you need to update your information online, use the normal process you’ve used before, or open a new browser window and type in the website address of the legitimate company’s account maintenance page.

·If a website address is unfamiliar, it’s probably not real. Only use the address that you have used before, or start at your normal homepage.

·Always report fraudulent or suspicious e-mail to your ISP. Reporting instances of spoof web sites will help get these bogus web sites shut down before they can do any more harm.

·Most companies require you to log in to a secure site. Look for the lock at the bottom of your browser and “https” in front of the website address.

·Take note of the header address on the web site. Most legitimate sites will have a relatively short internet address that usually depicts the business name followed by “.com,” or possibly “.org.” Spoof sites are more likely to have an excessively long string of characters in the header, with the legitimate business name somewhere in the string, or possibly not at all.

·If you have any doubts about an e-mail or website, contact the legitimate company directly. Make a copy of the questionable web site’s URL address, send it to the legitimate business and ask if the request is legitimate.

·If you’ve been victimized by a spoofed e-mail or web site, you should contact your local police or sheriff’s department, and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center at www.IFCCFBI.gov.

How to protect yourself against scams:

You can reduce your chances of being swindled by knowing whom it is you are dealing with. This will help to protect you against getting involved with scam operators who set up companies, rack up debts then close up shop leaving their debts behind.

Keep these points in mind:

·Ask for the name of the person you are speaking to and whom they represent.

·Take notes of conversations, including dates, times, names and important points.

·Ask for an explanation of anything you don’t understand.

·Read letters carefully and seek professional help (e.g. an accountant or a solicitor) if significant money, time or responsibilities are involved.

·If you want to check out the bona fides of a company, contact [Companies House or the Financial Services Authority].

·Find out whom you are dealing with. Independently verify any claims made by a sales person, investment adviser or advertisement.

·Make sure that any company you deal with complies with the applicable legislation. (In the UK, all companies must be registered with Companies House).

·Only do business with companies you know and trust.

·Make sure you fully understand all the terms and conditions of any offer made to you.

·Take your time before you make any decision.

·Don’t provide any financial or other personal information before you establish whether the company is legitimate.

·Understand and monitor your investments and ask frequent questions and map out your financial goals before you meet with a financial planner.

·Don’t judge the credibility of a company or sales person by how ‘professional’ they or their promotional material or web site seems.

·Don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics.

·Don’t let embarrassment or fear keep you from reporting fraud or abuse to the appropriate authorities.

·Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. In fact, the more questions you ask, the better.
In all situations, the old maxim applies,
“If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is”!

Top Five Signs That a Message is a Hoax

The next time that you receive an alarming e-mail calling you to action, look for any one of these five telltale characteristics before even thinking about sending it along to anybody else.

Urgent
The e-mail will have a great sense of urgency! You’ll usually see a lot of exclamation points and capitalization. The subject line will typically be something like:

URGENT!!!!!!
WARNING!!!!!!
IMPORTANT!!!!!!
VIRUS ALERT!!!!!!

Tell all of your friends
There will always be a request that you share this “important” warning by forwarding the message to everybody in your e-mail address book or to as many people as you possibly can. This is a surefire sign that the message is a hoax.

This isn’t a hoax
The body of the e-mail will contain some form of corroboration, such as a pseudoquote from an executive of a major corporation or from a government agency official.

Sometimes the message will include a sincere-sounding premise. For example:

My neighbor, who works for Microsoft, just received this warning so I know it’s true. He asked me to pass this along to as many people as I can.

It’s all a bunch of baloney. Don’t believe it for a second.

Watch for e-mails containing a subtle form of self-corroboration. Statements such as “This is serious!” or “This is not a hoax!” can be deceiving. Just because somebody says it’s not a hoax doesn’t make it so.

Dire Consequences
The e-mail text will predict dire consequence if you don’t act immediately. The message may inform you that the virus will destroy your hard drive, kill your houseplants, or cause green fuzzy things to grow in your refrigerator.

History
Look for a lot of >>>> marks in the left margin. These marks indicate that people suckered by the hoax have forwarded the message countless times before it has reached you.

Even more great information can be found here.

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