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Top Tips to stay safe online

From time to time the Church becomes aware of members being faced with – or worse, occasionally the victims of – online fraud and nuisance.  It may be helpful to bear the following tips in mind.

In addition, if you receive an email about which you have suspicions, you can check www.hoax-slayer.com, www.scambusters.org, www.hoaxbusters.org, www.snopes.com, or www.urbanlegends.about.com if it or something similar has already been reported.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam or have information about a suspected scam, you should tell your family and friends and report it to your local Garda or PSNI Station.

Top Tips!

  1. If you don’t know who sent the e–mail, don’t open any attachments.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  You’re just not going to win a lottery you never entered.  Ever.
  3. If it asks you to forward to everyone you know, don’t. You will just be contributing to the growing pile of unsolicited e–mail travelling the globe.
  4. Bad grammar and spelling in the email may indicate the sender is not legitimate.
  5. Buying prescription drugs from an unsolicited e–mail is a fast way to get a fraud–related headache.
  6. Even if e–mails look legitimate, they’re probably not if they’re asking you to reset your password or send money to a collection office.  
    A sample of this is the Family Member/Friend in Distress email that has been circulating since 2006.  It will look like it comes from their e–mail address, but that has simply been spoofed.  It will say something along the lines that they have been mugged and can’t get in touch with the embassy, can you please send £1,000 to the Western Union/MoneyGram office in Madrid/where–ever.
  7. In relation to online shopping websites: do they have a physical address?  Do they have a phone number?  Do they have a registered company name? Are the products being offered at an extremely low price?  
    Check the payment method they use, PayPal is a good sign as it will offer you some protection.  Sending a MoneyGram is not good!  
    Check that the site uses encryption – https in the address bar and a tiny padlock image.  Look for reviews of the website on Google, it may have been already reported as a scam site.  Install a filter such as Web of Trust, www.mywot.com.
    Never enter your personal details on a site about which you are not sure.
  8. Install Anti–Virus, Anti Malware and a Spam filter on your computer.
    a.    Free Anti–Virus systems include www.avast.com, www.avira.com and  http://free.avg.com.  
    b.    Free Anti–Malware programmes include www.malwarebytes.org, Ad Aware from www.lavasoft.com and www.safer-networking.org.
    c.    Free Spam filters include www.spamihilator.com, www.spamato.net, www.bullguard.com and www.spamfighter.com.
  9. For additional security, consider using a web filter, such as K9, www.k9webprotection.com.  This can be used to block access to phishing sites, spyware/malware sources as well as a host of other unsavoury sites.  You can select the sort of categories you wish to block.
    There is also a suite of online security tools available for free download from www.trendmicro.com 
  10. All–in–all, as in the rest of your life, use common sense when online, and stay vigilant at all times’.

INFOGRAPHIC: The Geography of Social Media Threats.