The following are simple but useful tips on how to avoid any perils on the Internet that might occur with just a single click away. Be reminded on how important knowledge about the web is very essential before its use for ignorance may lead to jeopardy or worse, jail.
1. Do not give out your full name, address, or phone number to anyone online that you don’t trust or don’t know in person. “Don’t talk to strangers.” as the old saying goes, we should not entertain someone which we do not know. Giving your personal information to them can give them a chance to take advantage of your trust then benefit from anything that they can get from you.
2. Never give out your bank account or credit card information unless you are shopping with a well known or highly rated online business. Take good care of your digits. Be sure of those online businesses before engaging into any transactions. Might as well pay them a visit to be sure. Criminals will do anything when it comes to money because it is the reason why they live.
3. Never open e-mail attachments from strangers unless you can trust them and you have security settings on your computer. Viruses are everywhere and they multiply in seconds. Before opening or downloading attachments from e-mails sent to you anonymously, be sure that you have installed an anti-virus software, spyware remover, and firewall to your computer to protect it from any harm hackers might give. There are free programs available online, such as avast! antivirus, Grisoft‘s AVG, Microsoft Anti-Spyware Webroot, and Sygate Personal Firewall. They will block most attempts and alert you if problems are found.
4. Beware of spoof email claiming to be from eBay, PayPal, or a bank or a company name you know asking for personal or sensitive information. It is very possible for anyone to make an account telling that he’s/she’s from eBay, PayPal or any other company, real estates and the likes. To be sure, visit the main site of the company or send them back the e-mail sent to you for verification. This is called phishing. The e-mail may inform you that there is a problem with your account/password. There may be a link to click inside. Forward any of these e-mails to the company it claims to be sent from. They will confirm whether the e-mail you received was real or not. Also, bear in mind that e-mail programs like Yahoo!, MSN, and Gmail will never ask you for your e-mail password. Don’t fall for it.
5. If you decide to meet someone in person from online, go to a public place and let friends and family know your plans. Before engaging into personal transactions, take note of the person you are about to come contact with. Have an alternate plan if things turn out badly. Check his/her personal background or else visit a police station to see if he/she has any records. Might as well have someone to accompany you or leave a message to your family or friend telling that you are about to meet someone. Meet in a public place so that if any problem might happen, you have a lot of eyes to witness.
6. Read the fine print. There are many survey sites that pay you for answering questions and filling out forms. If you do not want to receive junk mail or get put on a telemarketer list, look for a small box near the bottom of the page that asks if you want to receive information and offers from other companies. The best sites will have a statement listed that they will not sell your name to other companies. Some sites require you to give all your information to get the product. Although sometimes, you may get a ton of spam. Only fill in required fields that are marked with a *. If the info box does not have an asterisk, it is optional and you can leave it blank.
7. Change your passwords every month or so. Alphanumerics would do the trick. Think of something original, something that is uncommon and can be very hard to think of. Make it exceptionally hard to guess, especially if it has you personal information. Then, write it in a small piece of paper and keep it into your wallet. Make sure to write down your password every time you change it. If you think someone might know your password to something, change it immediately. Changing your password constantly makes it difficult for people to hack into your accounts.
8. Check the URL. Always make sure the site you’re using is really what you think it is before you enter your details or a password. For example, if you want to log in to Facebook, you would check to make sure the site ends with *.facebook.com, not *.facebook-videos.com or anything like that. Usually, when a website ends like that (very close to a popular website), it means that the website wants to try and either get your password or get your personal details.
9. Be careful with your details. Always be careful what you say on the Internet. Only say what you would be happy to say to some random person on the street. (This means on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, or Myspace.) Don’t say sentences like “I am going to a party at ABC.” or “My name is DEF.” Stuff like that can get you into trouble with people you have never even met before. Remember, once you put your information on the Internet, you don’t know whose hands it will fall into.
10. Also remember that people might try to get in contact with you to bully you through cyber-bullying.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E. Mondejar
E. Mondejar is a writer for the Internet Law Firm of Aaron Kelly.