7 Steps Protect Yourself From Fraud
The news is filled with examples of identity and credit card theft. Most of this type of crime occurs offline, with a recent survey showing only under 15% of identity and credit card theft coming from online sources. Even so, a new class of email is infecting PCs without the user opening an attachment.
The DailyMail newspaper in the UK reports:
'This sort of spam also affects cautious users which would never open an unknown attachment or link,' say security experts Eleven Research Team. Previous generations of email-borne viruses and trojans required users to click on an attachment - often an office document such as a PDF.
Fortunately, banks, credit card companies and online vendors such as ShadowShopper.com are becoming increasingly effective at protecting you online. Using encrypted ordering, highly encrypted databases, and PCI compliant top level hosting security, all help to secure the online experience for you. Following a few basic tips will greatly increase your security online and make you a very difficult target for any online scam, virus, malware or identity thief:
The new emails - dubbed 'drive-by emails' - have been detected 'in the wild' by computer researchers Eleven Research Team. 'Previous malware e-mails required the user to click on a link or open an attachment for the PC to be infected. The new generation of e-mail-borne malware consists of HTML e-mails which automatically downloads malware when the e-mail is opened.'
'This is similar to so-called drive by downloads which infect a PC by opening an infected website in the browser.' The current wave of emails arrive with the title 'Banking Security Update.' To stay safe, the security company advises switching all security settings in email software to maximum, and updating your browser to the latest version so it's protected against malicious software.
1) If you do nothing else, use better passwords. If any of your passwords are contained in the list below, compiled by SplashData, then go right now and immediately change them! It's estimated that up to 20% of ALL passwords are in the 15 below!
If you're password is above, change it immediately to a password that contains letters, numbers and characters (ex: my$name%is^sue2) where you are using an easy to remember name separated by characters next to each other on the keyboard and ending in a number. If you are interested in a great, useful program that can not only remember all your passwords but also can auto-create random, secure passwords, we highly reccommend Roboform. [sic. Editor recommends OnePass.com which is FREE.]
2) Don't be lazy! DO NOT have your computer or browser "remember" your passwords. Type them in each time, and change passwords on all your accounts every 4-6 months.
3) Turn on your computer's internal firewall. If you don't know how to do this, ask a friend to help you. [or search Google.] It will add another layer of protection to the data you keep on your computer.
4) Beware of "phishing" scam emails. Some of these are very obvious like the offers from Nigeria to wire you a million bucks because their deposed uncle was a General who stumbled across the money. You've seen them before and they're obvious. But the new generation of phishing emails are sophisticated, and use the logos of real companies to try to get you to send them banking or credit information. Just remember, no company or bank will send you an unsolicited email asking for this information. It's different if you've initiated contact. Do not respond to uninitiated contact asking for financial information. (Important reminder: ShadowShopper will never send you a job notice through the mail, and will never send you a check for shopping. If you receive such a claim, it is a phishing scam. Go here
for details) [Do not open emails with graphic files (.jpeg, .jpg) or .exe, .bat, .doc, .docx or really ANY files if you do not know the sender. These file extensions are frequently forgeries or open malware programs that can log your keystrokes to steal your passwords. Some malware looks for people in your Contacts or Addressbook and sends you a message purportedly from them. If it looks out of character do not open it, check the full header, or forward it to your friend asking "is this really from you?"]
5) Check your accounts regularly. Banks, credit cards, credit agencies should all be checked frequently. Look for activity you do not recognize, and if you have a question, follow up to get more information.
6) Be on the lookout for unsolicited bills, checks or new accounts. Things that show up in mail or email that you did not ask for or sign up for should be immediately followed up. [Label them spam or phishing in your email providers interface.]
7) Install a computer anti-virus and malware software program on your computer. It's your frontline against the majority of the virus and malware threats that are out there. We highly recommend
for maximum protection. [or Trend Micro.]
Whether you're online or off, we can better fight credit card fraud or identity theft by being careful, following a few commonsense rules for passwords and computer security, and by being cautious about messages or letters that come unsolicited.
Here are some good articles you can read on being safe online:
Above all, if what you're offered is too good to be true, then it probably isn't true. If you have a question contact the firm's in question immediately. Happy, safe shopping!
Labels: crime, e-crime, ecommerce, email, hackers, internet, scoundrels, security