Keeping safe while using your computer
Unfortunately, I have had a few of my customers contact me recently after they have been involved with someone trying to scam them. As more and more of us use technology to buy stuff online, find out information, and do online banking, so the numbers of scammers and the methods that they use increases.
Things to watch out for:
- No one from Microsoft, Apple, or any other tech company will call you to tell you that you have a problem with your technology. Just put the phone down immediately, unless you are interested in having a bit of fun at the scammer’s expense and string them along. You may wish to use one of these phone sets that screen all calls. Unless a caller’s number is in your phone book, the caller has to identify themselves and only then will your phone actually ring and you can then decide to accept or reject the call.
- Emails coming from someone you know but sounding a bit strange – maybe spelling errors or using words that the person wouldn’t normally use. It is quite easy to create an email that looks like it has come from say Jane Smith. And if you know a Jane Smith, you may open the email but what you need to check is the actual sender’s email address, not who it states it is from as this can easily be generated.
- Emails supposedly coming from reputable companies (HMRC, Amazon, BT etc) asking you to enter your details. If you do decide to open these types of emails, always check the links within these emails by hovering your cursor above the link. So the link might say “Click here to reset your details with BT”, but if you hover over the link, the link will point to a weird site like www.adodgywebsite.co.uk. If you click the link, you will be directed to that site not what the link says. Check that the actual email address of the organization supposedly sending you the email is the correct email address for that organization.
- When you’re browsing online, watch out for the adverts that seem too good to be true (click here to win an iPad). Perhaps install an adblocker as an extension to the browser that you use that blocks adverts.
- Always keep your anti-virus up to date. This doesn’t have to be paid for anti-virus. Free anti-virus will do the same job. Windows 10 comes with its own in-built anti-virus called Windows Defender.
- If you have been sent an unsolicited email with a link saying “unsubscribe here” be wary of doing so as this often spawns a whole load more spam to your inbox. Better just to flag the email up as junk and/or delete. Some email programs will allow you to setup rules whereby any email coming in from a dodgy company will automatically put the email into your junk folder. If you normally access your email through a browser, consider using an email client such as a free one like Thunderbird which will do a lot of this sorting and checking for you.
- If you are going to make a purchase online, you could consider opening an account simply for this purpose with limited credit terms or none. This way, if your card is compromised, the scammers will not get away with huge amounts of your hard earned cash.
- Have strong passwords for all of your accounts and if you save your passwords using your browser, make sure you have a password that gets you into you desktop as otherwise, all of these saved passwords are accessible to anyone who can access your pc.
- Be wary of anyone who wants to install software onto your machine so that they can “help you with your problem”. Only trust reputable companies and not companies that have rung you to tell you that you have a problem. No-one can know if you have a problem with your pc or not – other than yourself.
- If you are scammed: ACT FAST. Don’t worry about being embarrassed or foolish. The online scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated. Contact your bank if you have had to use or have given your card details to someone who you are worried is suspicious. If you have let the scammers control your pc or they have got you to install software, switch off your machine get your machine looked at immediately by a technical expert and let them work out what needs to be done to make your computer safe again.
As always, if you would like a chat about this subject or any other technical question, please give me a call or drop me a line 0785 509 2227 email@example.com