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Cyber criminals are masters at deceiving unsuspecting internet browsers with sophisticated scams including fake websites, phishing emails and even holding your data hostage.
Fake websites often look like exact copies of official websites or seem trustworthy when you first browse them. Even long-term internet users can sometimes struggle to spot the difference. These sorts of websites are usually associated with fraudulent activities such as phishing, scams and spam activity.
If you manage to avoid these, cyber criminals often send emails designed to appear as if they've been sent to you from a legitimate source, such as a bank or other service provider.
These messages often include links to 'spoofed' websites - that is a site or webpage that looks exactly like the official organisation's website, but is intended to trick you into disclosing your personal, financial, business and other forms of confidential information.
While most users are alert to the dangers of the internet and take measures to safeguard their information, it's important for all users to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against the various online frauds and scams.
Tips to protect your personal information and stay safe online:
- Minimise your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud by ALWAYS keeping your personal information confidential. Never give out your personal details, unless you’re absolutely sure that the person or website who is asking is reliable and legitimate.
- Never respond to, or click on, any links in an email message requesting that you verify your personal details or login credentials or update, activate or reactivate your online profiles.
- When providing personal information over the internet, make sure that the website you are using is secure, i.e. that it is an https (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) site. These sites encrypt your information and only send it over a secure network. You will see https:// at the beginning of the website URL.
- When shopping online, exercise caution and don’t provide your personal information and/or bank account details, for example your credit card number, if the store doesn’t make use of a secure, encrypted connection.
- Always follow your instincts and check the veracity of communications, claims or adverts, especially when these appear 'too good to be true', suspicious or out of the norm. Where suspicions arise, contact the provider directly to confirm the claims or search and verify contact information via a recognised search engine – for example Google, Bing or Yahoo.
- Take some time to look at the content on websites to be in a position to judge whether it’s valid or not. Check content for contradictions or inconsistencies relating to products and services and navigate around the webpages or site. Legitimate company websites will usually provide detailed content or information about the business, its products and services.
- Make sure that you regularly update your operating system, applications, software and browser. Always use updated anti-virus software on all your devices, make sure that you have software or hardware firewalls and never download files or content from sites that you don’t know or trust.
- Protect the information on your storage devices by either encrypting files or by hiding or disguising files containing sensitive and confidential information. Remember that unauthorised access to your personal information on your computer or device could also be carried out remotely using the internet while you’re connected, or physically should cyber criminals get hold of your device(s).
- Refrain from using the same (one) password for all your devices and applications. Create strong passwords, and try to use unique passwords for different profiles or areas of your life – for example one for email accounts, one for financial accounts, one for social media accounts and so on.
- Monitor your accounts for any unknown, unusual or unauthorised transactions and regularly scrutinise statements and bills received. Also, safeguard and secure these documents whether in electronic or hardcopy format.
Vodacom's SpeakUp Hotline 0800 990 520
If you are aware of, or have any suspicions regarding serious instances of theft, fraud or related irregularities, this can be reported to Vodacom's independently managed Speak Up Hotline service by dialling 0800 990 520.