With Internet usage growing all the time Staying Safe Online has become an important issue. There are those who look to take advantage of the internet for criminal activity. There are many things that internet users need to look out for, among them the possibility of identity theft and fraud, viruses and unsafe emails.
Identity theft has been an issue off-line for a long time but it is now just as much of an issue, if not more so, online. A good example of internet identity theft is someone gaining your bank details and using them to purchase goods or services online. Some attempt to use other peoples details to open bank accounts or credit card accounts. This allows them to spend using a credit card that is then billed to the person whose details it was set up with. So if this happens to you it could ultimately lead to you being in debt. There are even examples of people getting mortgages using such techniques. It is therefore always important to be careful with where you submit your information to. Never submit your personal information or bank details to a website you are suspicious of.
There are many types of Computer Virus that criminals use for a variety of reasons, from simple malicious intent to inconvenience others to gaining access to others personal information or finances. Some viruses infect computers with spyware. The aim of this is to spread a computer virus from computer to computer. The objective of this can be to cause irreversible damage to yours and others computers or it can be to expose personal information. Some will send emails with the intent of spreading viruses. Clicking on the link within the email may infect that particular computer and send the same email to all of that persons email contacts, meaning the potential for their computers to also be infected. Another type of virus are called Trojan Horse Viruses which moved around your computer and expose personal information and transmit these details to the viruss creator.
There are many examples of ways in which spam email are used for fraudulent activity, some of which overlap with some of the issues mentioned above. A common example of spam emails are emails that imitate organisations such as banks. These emails are sent to individuals claiming to be their bank. They state that the individual has entered the incorrect pin for their bank account three times and asks them to click a link to choose a new pin. They often claim that failure to do this will mean the account is disabled. The aim though, is for you to click the link and then enter your bank details, giving these criminals your details and therefore access to your account. A genuine bank would never email customers asking them to enter their details. Links in emails from someone claiming to be a bank should never be clicked on and attachments should not be opened. If in doubt you should forward the email onto the bank in question.
Andrew Marshall (c)
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