The internet is a gold mine of information, you can learn, shop, explore and be whoever you want to be. Usually these impersonations are harmless such as Superman or Batman impersonations on twitter. Scammers however, are seasoned pros, taking on such roles as trusted institutions to part you from your hard earned money.
To prevent such inconveniences to yourself, here are three tips of how to protect yourself.
Look for the blue tick
Twitter, one of the most prominent social media websites, have a feature that verifies an account of public interest is authentic. That is, if the account is really who they say they are. Facebook also has a similar feature.
This feature can be used to alert you to the fact that the page you’re visiting may not actually be the company they’re claiming to be. If it doesn`t include the tick, such as the below P&O site below - it's a fake. The genuine P&O social media accounts have blue ticks.
^Here you can see that there isn’t a blue checkmark next to the name so we know that the person behind the page doesn’t actually represent P&O Cruises.
Social media accounts belonging to large companies such as P&O Cruises or Natwest will have a blue tick next to their name. Pages of small companies sometimes don’t have the checkmark but the company will usually have a link to their social media pages from their website.
Look for the green padlock
The padlock symbolises that the connection to the website is made over secure connection. Extended validation certificates, which will produce a green padlock in all major browsers, require identity checks before they are issued.
Also, there had been cases where security researchers managed to circumvent extended validations to create fake websites. Such as the fake Cadbury's competition below.
Thus, if the website doesn’t feel right, it’s always best to search for the company’s name to find their website.
Don’t click on links sent in SMS texts or email
You may get a text proclaiming your bank account will be suspended unless you go to a website and change your password now! DON’T CLICK ON IT! That’s just a scammer trying to get your details or worse install malware (malicious software) on your computer.
The link could lead to a website that plants malicious software on your account. At its tamest the link could just be a phishing site. As the name suggests the scammer is trying to “fish” for your details like your email, password, or other personal details that they could use to compromise your accounts.
While browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Edge try to warn you of phishing links, phishing sites might be so new that it hasn’t been added to the warning database. Also, the site might be long gone when these browsers finally come around to warn you.
To learn more about phishing see this video.
Google is your friend
To avoid being phished, don’t click on links in text messages or emails. Instead go to Google (or Bing if you’re so inclined) and search for the company’s name. Then go to the contact us page to contact the company directly if you have concerns about your account.
With these 4 trusty tips in mind, stay safe out there and remember, Google is your friend. If in doubt, Google it.
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