Spam, phishing, hackers... it seems like there are tons of ways to get in trouble online. If everybody behaved ethically, this wouldn't be an issue, but unfortunately, not everybody can be trusted.
Let's take a look at some common examples and how to catch them—before they catch you!
If you have an email address, you've likely seen one of these. Scammers and phishers will often send emails trying to get you to respond, click on links, or provide personal information. Sometimes they'll disguise a scam by making it look like it's coming from someone you know. So if anything seems off, like a lack of subject line or irregular grammar, chances are, it's phishy.
Image of a computer with password on it.
It should go without saying, but we'll say it anyway: Don't share your passwords. Most people use the same password for multiple accounts. So while sharing your Instagram password might seem like a "relationship" milestone, you may not be as keen to share your bank account information. Many sites now provide two-step verification, by sending a text or email, which is a good extra step to make sure your information is secure.
Image of a computer hacker stealing personal information.
Here's the scoop: it doesn't matter how meticulous you are with your privacy settings and password complexity if you volunteer personal information via the internet. It might seem like a good idea at the time to post a pic of your new driver's license, but consider you've just informed the entire world wide web of your name, birth date, and home address—more than enough for an amateur hacker to steal your identity.
Image of a fake prompt on a computer
Unfortunately, clicking on these online pop-ups does not make you a winner. These are usually easy to spot as fakes, but more advanced hackers will go as far as creating almost perfect duplicates of well-known sites to trick you into inputting personal information. Be on the lookout for inconsistent URLs, if you're forced to navigate to an external link, and look for consistent copyright tags at the bottom of each page.