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PC Tools Tips on Avoiding Online Scams

|Mar 2|magazine14 min read

 

An Internet user’s actions online can have expensive consequences. If you’re not careful while browsing, and don’t recognise signs that you’re about to be scammed, you may be coerced into giving away valuable information. PC Tools is providing important insight into how online scams work so that consumers will be protected from online scams.

One important thing to watch out for are specific keywords criminals use to catch consumers attention and encourage a click through to their scam. Detecting these keywords can put you ahead of the game when trying to avoid Internet fraud.

Common keywords PC Tools designates as scam indicators include:

Work from home scam: Home / Online / Work/ Jobs

Diet scam: Burn / Fat / Fast / Diet / Pay / Buy / Acai / Weight / Mango

Mobile Phone Scam: Service / Bill / Billed / Charges / Charged / Subscription / Subscribe / Subscribed / Terms / Conditions

“There’s a substantial database of keywords that our technology uses to help detect and assess potential scam websites. If a pop-up appears offering to help you ‘Burn Fat Fast’, but asks for payment to sign up to a super new diet plan, think twice before you go ahead,” said Richard Clooke, Online Security Expert for PC Tools.

In a survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, PC Tools found that half of survey respondents admitted that they would provide credit card information in ‘get-rich-quick’ or ‘work from home’ scams. Even worse, 62 per cent of North American respondents believed their friends would be likely to do the same.

“We generally find that when people are answering for others they are more inclined to reveal their true behavior, or in this case their susceptibility. Interestingly, the survey results from all three regions demonstrate that [North American] respondents are more susceptible than either UK or American respondents for both the first and third person constructs,” said Clooke.

 

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Here are some of PC Tools tips on how to outsmart online scammers:

1.      ASK – is this too good to be true?

$50 here, a holiday there, unlimited online offers from the world’s biggest brands – if you’re tempted by any of these free offers, then the answer is probably yes.

Many online scams trick us into revealing our personal information to secure something in return. It’s important to be aware of ‘fake offers’ to avoid being lured by savvy scammers.

2.      DON’T – dish your details unless the site is secure.

Never provide personal or financial information in exchange for online offers.  Details such as your mobile number, address, and credit card or banking details should never be entered on a non-secure site. When in doubt:

Double check the URL before typing a link into your browser.

Check there is a padlock icon in your browser before using your credit card online.

Check you’re on a secure site and that the address starts with ‘HTTPS’.

3.      THINK – it can happen to me.

Many of us think we are savvy online, but the reality is cybercriminals are cashing in on relaxed attitudes to sharing personal details online. Results from the PC Tools study also showed that most people think scams are more likely to happen to others, rather than themselves.

We need to educate ourselves about online scams and be aware of the risk.

4.      DO – invest in scam protection software.

What most of us don’t realize is some online scams don’t involve malware and while traditional Internet security is still essential, we now require additional protection to prevent cybercriminals gaining personal information via other methods.

PC Tools also considers the following scams the most popular for online tricks used to scam consumers for 2012:

  • Online shopping offers e.g. bargains from unknown stores.
  • Get rich quick schemes/work from home offers.
  • Offers to download mobile protection software.
  • Offers to download antivirus software.
  • Offers to win a prize e.g. answer this survey ‘for your chance to win’...
  • Movie offers e.g. search for a popular movie such as Twilight and an offer comes up to download the movie for free.
  • Online donations.

The Internet is offering a new opportunity for scammers and its important to be careful when browsing. To learn more about what PC Tools offers in the form of software against online scams check out www.pctools.com/internet-security