There are all sorts of cyberspace scams that prey on people, separating them from their money. Mystery author Terry Ambrose stops by today with some tips for online safety. Terry started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark when “negotiations” failed. Learn more about Terry and his books at his website. -- AP
Three tips to stay safe online
I recently received an email from a friend, who is a very nice man, does lots of community service and other good things, and who also sent out a slew of spam. He didn’t do it intentionally, but was the victim of someone hacking his AOL account. A couple of days before that, I received another spam email from another friend who’d had his email account hacked. This unfortunate and all too frequent issue points out just how difficult it can be for people to avoid becoming the victim of a scam. Here are three quick tips to help keep your financial information safe.
Work at home scams
Some of our relatives recently retired to California from their place in Florida. Once they got here, they decided that it would be nice to be able to work from home to stay active and make a little extra cash. The interesting thing is that many of those “work at home” offers are no more than scams. Robert Brauer of The Internet Truth Project (www.theinternettruthproject.com), an organization that helps new internet entrepreneurs avoid scams and focus on honest ways of growing their businesses warns that, “Most are complete scams -- in fact, government studies show that 54 of 55 are scams.”
Keep your financial information confidential
Let’s return for a moment to that AOL email I mentioned at the top of this post. The email told me that my friend had gone to the Philippines and had been mugged. He was in need of cash. This scam is one of the oldest around, but continues to be used by scammers because these guys are good at practicing the old adage, “don’t fix what ain’t broken.” If you receive this type of email and want to check with your friend, be sure not to simply reply to the email, but create a new one or, better yet, call him and him to change the password on his email account.
Perhaps one of the most dangerous threats is the “spoofed” website. A spoofed website is a fake site that has been set up to look exactly like the real thing. These sites typically have domain names that are similar to the ones they’re imitating. For instance, AARP issued an alert to it’s members before the holidays about a site using the address “www.tiffany.co.mn” instead of the legitimate “www.tiffany.com”. The thing that makes these sites so dangerous is their appearance, which is virtually identical to the original. It’s unwise to ever click a link in an email, but if you do, make sure the address matches what you expect and isn’t some dangerous derivative.
If you’d like more tips on how to stay one step ahead of the con, check out my Crime and Courts column on Examiner.com or the tips I provide on my website.
License to Lie:
Never trust a soul—even your own.
Two experts in the art of communications. Both are driven by their goals—and they’re on opposite sides of the law. But, when her father is kidnapped, they join forces—and learn that with $5,000,000 and their lives on the line, it’s hard to trust each other—or themselves.