Online data protection is a very serious problem. Although the internet can be safe if you are aware of what you should and shouldn’t do online, especially in terms of the personal information given. Unfortunately, if you make a mistake or are caught out you can often fall prey to online fraud.
One of the most common forms of internet fraud – purchase fraud is where a would-be criminal offers some form of transaction; using illegal means to make sure that they receive your end of the trade.
For instance, this is a common occurrence when trying to buy things online. On unofficial or unmonitored forums and websites, for instance, it can be quite common to see an advert that looks tempting. Usually it will be something desirable for a reasonable price. However, the seller may pressure you into buying quickly, often urging you to pay through an account or card. This will usually lead to a temporary or anonymous account.
In return, the seller doesn’t actually have anything to sell; they simply take your money knowing that they can’t be easily traced. If you suspect this might be the case, or you simply don’t know who you are trading with, be careful. If you’re buying something, ask for some proof of the goods, such as a traceable order. Additionally, don’t pay all the money up front until you receive what you paid for. If the seller pushes for anything else, it is likely to be a scam, or at least not worth the risk.
This also works the other way, too. If you’re a seller, a buyer may insist on using a suspect credit card or other method of paying. This will often be a delayed transaction; they will often also insist that you send the goods. In this case, don’t send anything until you’ve received payment, or can confirm payment.
Another common method of fraud is identity theft. This is similar in scope to purchase fraud, but it simply targets at getting your information. This isn’t always about offering a trade, many viruses and scam software mimics a bank or official body requisition your personal information. In these cases you shouldn’t hand over your information unless you are absolutely sure you’re on the official website. Check the URL of the current page; even if it looks like the correct website, it could actually be a fake.
One of the methods in which you can further prevent this is making sure you only enter such information into secure URLS. Most web pages begin with HTTP, the code used to transfer data. This isn’t secure; any official company or organization asking for your details will, at the very least, use HTTPS, a secure version of the code which prevents people from retrieving the information as its being sent.
For those worried about identity theft and the potential risk posed to their reputation online, ALLOW, the London-based information privacy company, has created the UK’s first social media insurance. The insurance forms an important part of the ALLOW Protect service and gives consumers an insight into how their data is used online. The service helps people deal with excessive junk email, block online tracking and, crucially, protects against online ID fraud.
Finally, bear in mind that these are just two of the more common forms of fraud. Whether it is through false websites, viruses, or e-mails, there are many types of fraud. You should remember the simple rule; if it looks too good to be true, it usually is. Additionally, any situation where you are forced or legally obliged to hand over such information is also usually fake. The legal bodies and banks will not ask you for all your personal information in one go, or ask you to pay money into an anonymous account or payment service. If you bear this in mind, you will find it easier to avoid such fraud schemes if they occur.