7 Ways to Avoid Online Fraud

Published on October 11, 2016

Every year, millions of consumers fall victim to cybercrime. According to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, in 2014 consumers lost more than $800 million from scams initiated through the web. In recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Somerset Trust Company is highlighting seven tips to help consumers protect themselves from online fraud.

"The internet has become one of the most popular tools used to commit fraud and criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated with their hacking techniques," said Henry Cook, President and CEO. "As a result, It's extremely important for consumers to secure their wireless networks and filter the amount of personal information they choose to divulge online."

Somerset Trust Company recommends the following tips to keep you safe online:

  • Keep your computer and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
     
  • Create complic@t3d passwords and never write them down or store them in a file on your computer. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. 
     
  • Don't reuse passwords across different sites. When one website is compromised, they often steal the credentials of that site. So, if you reuse a password, and it's compromised on one site, the bad-guys have access to all the other sites where you have used those credentials. 
     
  • Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov - and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email. 
     
  • Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother's maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
     
  • Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it. 
     
  • Read the site's privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don't see or understand a site's privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.