Cybercrime usually begins with a deception. An email that looks like it comes from a friend or family member, or has an interesting subject line. An attachment or photo invites you to click or download it. A pop-up ad offers a fantastic deal with a link to “Act now!” or a text message warns you that something is very wrong with your bank account or credit card. Some deceptions are transparent, others more sophisticated.
Think before you click. When you see an email or other communication that demands urgent response, don’t. If an email looks suspicious, delete immediately. Social media links can also mask attempts to collect personal information. Check and update the privacy settings on your social media accounts to your preferred degree of privacy. Think carefully about what you share online. If you post that you’re looking forward to you two-week vacation in Hawaii, you are also signaling that your house may be vacant for those two weeks. Your personal information is like money; protect it accordingly.
When you visit a web site, check the web address in your browser’s address bar. Look for web addresses that begin with “https://”. This means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. Do not do financial transactions or enter personal information on sites that don’t use https. .
Also check the URL address itself. Many scammers create fake web sites that are similar to legitimate sites, but are slightly different. If in doubt, look up the site you want to access with a search engine and link in from there. The same applies if a message instructs you to call a certain phone number. Don’t use that number unless you can verify it some other way (for example, on the back of your credit card, or on a statement). Instead, search for the company’s phone number and call them directly.