Internet Scam is a general way to define the different types of fraud that consumers face when using the Internet. Scammers use technical tools or 'social engineering' techniques to compromise consumer's personal information with different objectives, but normally with the intention of get consumer's money.
- Bogus lotteries or fake prize draws: You receive a letter or an e-mail informing that you have won a big sum of money. In order to get the money, you have to indicate your bank data or you are asked to put money into an account to facilitate the payment of your prize. Watch out! Don't believe such an e-mail or letter. It is only a way to get your bank account details or money from you! Don't reply!
- Phishing: scammers try to gather consumer's personal information in order to commit fraud: bank details, passwords etc.
- Fake web pages, illegal use of trust marks etc.
FIVE HINTS TO AVOID SCAMS
- 1. Do not trust in offers "too good to be true".
- 2. Use secure payment methods, never money sending companies.
- 3. Check at maximum the identity and background of sellers.
- 4. Protect your computer: firewalls, antivirus and anti-spy software.
- 5. Protect your privacy: avoid sharing your data indiscriminately.
BASIC PROTECTION ON THE INTERNET
When using the Internet you should bear in mind that the Internet is no different from other fields of life. When ridding a bicycle, driving a car or even walking on the street, we are all exposed to risks. To start protecting ourselves on the Internet we have to realize that total security does not exist.
What we can do as consumers is to try to protect ourselves, to minimize the risks in order to safeguard our valuable information. It is a fact that when applying very basic security measures at domestic level we can significantly reduce our risk and approximate it to 0.
There are basically two threats that as consumers you should be aware of when using the Internet:
A. Technical vulnerabilities - threats related to the use of your computer and the use of Internet. This is the case of computer viruses but also includes vulnerabilites related to the exchange of external removable dispositive like USB or hard drive memories, or even power cuts.
How to minimize technical vulnerabilities?
Install and update antivirus, firewall and anti-spy software
There are no excuses for not having an antivirus, a firewall or an anti-spy. When you surf the Internet without any protection you are exposed. There are many organizations which offer quality software free of charge, e.g. Spanish Oficina del Seguridad del Internauta and others:
Antivirus as product:
Antivirus as service
Fight against Spam emails
B. "Social engineering" - threats not related to technical issues but to the ability of the scammer to cheat consumers by mean of tricks. It is also related to a responsible - informed - use of the Internet by consumers.
How to minimize social engineering vulnerabilities?
You are the best "firewall": use your common sense
This is the best advice to have in mind when surfing the Internet. Consumer protection agencies around the world, co-operating within the ICPEN network, are working to educate consumers in a responsible use of the Internet. Nevertheless, you as consumer are the best "firewall" against fraudsters and scammers.
Please find below some initiatives of ICPEN: