Author: Lydia Quinn
On the Internet, there’s so much to see and do. You can communicate, shop, play and learn. It’s a veritable treasure trove of information and activities for just about anyone of any age. Unfortunately, just like in the real world, everything also has a downside. For the Internet, that downside includes, scams, spam, viruses and spyware. Basically, people who want to take advantage of you. This article will give you some basics for protecting yourself online.
One of the worst scams comes to you via email, in the form of “phishing” emails. They come to you in the form of an email from banks, eBay, a store, Paypal or other business or financial institution. The email will have the name of the company in the from area and the email may look real, complete with corporate logos and official sounding text. Don’t be fooled, however. A reputable financial institution or business will never ask you for your username, password, account number or other sensitive personal information via email. NEVER click on the link to the site provided in their email. If you are unsure if the email is fake, then open up your browser and manually type in the URL of the company’s website. Go there and login and see if they are requesting something from you there. Chances are, they aren’t. You can report these emails or simply delete them.
Other scam emails may come to you from foreign countries asking you to hold a large sum of money for them, in return you get a percentage of the money, usually millions of dollars. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. This scam has been around for years, don’t fall for it. It’s just a way to get your bank account information and to empty it before you even realize what has happened.
Scam websites are also a problem, whether it’s a fly by night store, a phony eBay seller or a store that’s actually just trying to get you to give them your personal information for marketing purposes, you can easily avoid these by checking eBay feedback, store reviews via Google and the BBB and other consumer complaint websites.
The solution to scams? Be vigilant. Never click a URL in an email that looks the least bit suspicious. Always check the feedback, reviews and ratings of sellers before buying and never, ever give away your personal information to a website that looks suspicious.
Spam can be a huge problem if you have had your email address for any length of time. No matter how well you protect your email address by not giving it out to anyone you don’t know, you’re still going to get spam. You can, however, minimize the time you spend dealing with spam by adjusting the options in your ISP or web mail preferences section. For most web email addresses, like Yahoo Mail, Gmail and Hotmail, you can adjust or train the spam filters so that spam rarely makes it to your main inbox but instead ends up in your Bulk Mail or Junk Mail folder. For AOL users, they have a similar Spam Mail folder and email options which you can adjust to your liking. For stand alone email programs using POP email boxes, any good email program will have spam and junk mail filters as well as allow you to set rules for which mail is deleted, flagged or sent in to the Junk Mail folder according to preferences you set. If you still have a problem, you may consider a third party program like MailWasher at mailwasher.net or SingleFin from singlefin.net. Both programs are free and should help solve or minimize your spam problem.
Viruses are a common problem if you spend any time online. That greeting card attachment your friend forwarded you contained more than a greeting card, you’ve now got a virus! Viruses can slow your computer down, slow down your web surfing or they can do more serious damage like relay sensitive information like your bank login information to a hacker or at the worst end, erase your entire hard drive! To prevent these problems, you should never open attachments unless it’s been scanned by a virus program first, also don’t download any files from suspicious websites, stick to the well known download sites instead, like download.com. To help keep your computer clean of viruses, download and install one of the many anti-virus programs available. Some good ones are AVG Free Anti-Virus, from grisoft.com and Avast Anti-Virus from avast.com. Both programs are free and will automatically check for new versions of their virus databases so you are protected from existing and new viruses.
Spyware is also a common problem that can slow your computer down tremendously and run programs on your computer without you even knowing. Spyware can come from websites, even well known and reputable websites but usually spyware is contained in certain free programs, like games and software that is free due to banner ads or other advertising inside the program. Since spyware can slow down your computer, it’s a good idea to download and install at least one program that will protect you from spyware. Two good ones are Spyware Doctor from pctools.com and Ad-Aware SE from lavasoft.de.
Once you have downloaded and installed your anti-virus and spyware protection software, be sure to schedule a full scan of your computer often, at least once a week or more to help keep your computer running fast and smooth.
About the Author:
Lydia Quinn writes for PaidSurvey24.com, a free and comprehensive paid survey directory list. Visit us at: http://www.paidsurvey24.com.