Smart on-line usage means taking steps to avoid falling victim to on-line fraud, which occurs when criminals try to obtain your personal information, such as credit card and account numbers, get you to pay for items that are either nonexistent or misrepresented to you and/or steal your identity. It may also include infecting your computer with a virus. The LaSalle Police Service offers the following safety tips to help keep you and your family safe:
· Do not respond to offers of money, threats of legal action or warnings about “compromised security”. Check the sender’s e-mail address to be sure that it is legitimate.
· Be watchful of phishing emails that ask for personal or financial information.
· Never provide personal or financial information to anyone in an email.
· Do not click on links in emails from senders you don not know. The link may take you to a fraudulent website where you will be asked to enter your password or other personal information.
· Be suspicious of email attachments from unknown sources. If you don not know the sender of an email, do not open the attachment. Attachments may contain viruses or malware designed to infiltrate and harm your computer.
· Don not set your email program to “auto run” attachments. Always run your anti-virus software to check that emails you receive do not contain viruses.
· Choose a unique, yet memorable password that you do not have to write down, but that is difficult for others to guess. A combination of letters and numbers is recommended.
· Disable Auto Complete or other memorized password functions that may be available on your computer or mobile device.
· Do not save passwords on your computer, on the Internet or any software. Anyone who as access to or compromises the security of that information can potentially impersonate you.
· Never disclose your password to anyone, especially on-line.
· Change your password at least every 90 days, to help protect the security of your information.
· Shop only from your home computer and not on public ones its much safer.
· Do not shop or do any banking on public Wi-Fi.
· Deal only with reputable companies you know and do your research. Legitimate merchants will have easy-to-find information about themselves, their location and contact numbers.
· Don’t be pushed or rushed into buying an item, especially by “limited supply” or “limited time” warnings.
· Know what you are paying for and all costs involved. Read the terms and conditions of all contracts before buying.
· Ensure the merchants you deal with on-line have secure transaction systems (indicated by a padlock symbol at the bottom of your browser) before providing credit card or other important information.
· Consider using a credit card with a low credit limit or single use payment card.
· Always print and save the confirmation page when completing on-line purchases.
· Monitor all blank statements and activity on-line. Report discrepancies to your financial institution immediately.
· Never provide your Social Security Number, date of birth or drivers license number to a seller.
· Clear your browser’s cache after visiting secure sites to ensure nobody else can view any confidential information you may have transmitted.
· Always remember that if it sounds suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is.
Viruses and Malware:
· Always use up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software from a reputable vendor that is capable of scanning files and email messages for malevolent software. Most anti-virus programs include an auto-update feature that enables the program to download profiles of new viruses so that it can check for them as soon as they are discovered.
· Register new anti-virus and anti-spyware software immediately and sign up for automatic notification of product updates if available.
A fire wall filters information transmitted through your Internet connection into your computer, permitting communication only with sources you know and trust. It helps prevent unauthorized access, protecting your home network and family from potential hackers and offensive websites.
· Restrict traffic that travels through your Firewall by only granting access to those programs and/or traffic that you are familiar with.
· Disable the File Sharing feature if you don not share files or documents with other computers on your network. Doing so will prevent others from being able to download or view your files or documents.
While no method is foolproof, following the above measures can reduce the potential of becoming a victim of on-line fraud.