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When you use the internet, it doesn’t matter where you are in person. You can view the same web pages and shop on the same online store without having to physically enter the store. This provides huge advantages for online shopping over conventional shopping. No traffic hassles, no parking problems, no “fighting” the crowds of people visiting in the shopping center!
Before the World Wide Web, people used to shop around looking for the best gift for the best price. Now, the story is a different. You can do everything you’re your own home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can browse and select products; purchase and gift wrap; and even organize delivery of the goods online, anytime and anywhere in the world.
But, just like any other good thingâ€¦.there are risks that come with online shopping. You can easily become a victim of phishing, identity theft and fraud. So you must take precautions to ensure that you and your family are always safe when you’re shopping online.
As noted many times in this book, the most common examples of online fraud are phishing scams, auction fraud, credit card fraud and online shopping fraud. In chapter 4 we have looked a number of examples of how these scams work. If you are unfamiliar with these scams please review them before continuing.
“Defense in Depth” is the Best Security Strategy
As I have said many times, everyone has to take responsibility to protect them from online fraud. You are a wise person because you are educating yourself about internet fraud by learning and adopting simple proven internet safety practices.
In chapters 16 & 17, we looked at protecting your home computer network using a “Defense in Depth” security strategy. Here, we looked at seven different layers of security. If you’re not sure about this strategy then you should re-read this chapter. This is the best security strategy you can use when you’re shopping online. This chapter builds on the principle taught in these chapters.
Fighting Against Spam
If you intend to surf the Internet, then the best thing you can do is to install an internet security suite.
Many internet security suites like Nortons Internet Security have spam & phishing filters as a standard features or at worst an optional downloads. The spam filters use in-built rules to detect and filter spam & phishing e-mail into separate files.
Spam filters also blacklist the offending mail preventing it from reaching you. If your spam filter is working well, you will never see the spam unless you locate the file in the security directory and view it.
However, even if you have the best anti-spam software in the world, spam can still evade your spam filter and end up in your inbox. You also need to know how to detect spam and deal with it correctly.
Here are some of the important features that you should look for when choosing the “ideal” spam filtering subscriptionâ€¦.accuracy and false-positive rating.
Accuracy ratings refer to the percentage of legitimate e-mails that successfully reaches the user’s inbox after being filtered. The accuracy of several spam filtering subscriptions are continually being tested by passing thousands of e-mails through the spam filter.
Today, a spam accuracy rating of 80% is very poor. You should expect a minimum rating of 95% and some anti-spam subscriptions have accuracy ratings as high as 98% to 99%. The False-Positive rating is the percentage of legitimate e-mails that have been wrongly identified as spam. This rating should be less than 1%. Different computer publications such as PCWorld and PCMagazine offer reports on the accuracy and false-positive ratings of spam filtering subscriptions.
The cost of spam-filtering subscriptions has to be measured against the services it providesâ€¦.ultimately you get what you pay for! A subscription may be expensive but it may be worth paying for its quality features, speed and control. Sometimes choosing a lower cost provider means paying more in lost time and poor output performance.
A good spam filter should fit your specific needs. It should be flexible in its configuration so that it meets your needs. It should also provide automatic updates.
There are some simple rules that you should follow:
When you detect spam in the email box, never respond to the spammer.
Avoid opening your spam messages at allâ€¦.just delete it.
Whenever a pop-up window appears from someone you don’t knowâ€¦just delete it! They are mostly scams.
Do not close your mail box or blog without signing off completely.
Use usernames and passwords that are hard to guess. You should review Chapter 17 for rules about creating and using strong passwords.
How does shopping online increase the risk of identity theft?
Using shopping carts in unsecured websites dramatically increases the risk of you becoming a victim of identity theft.
I learnt that lesson the hard way! In chapter 1, I told you my story as to how I twice became an identity theft. The first time was 1995 by people with whom I shared a residence. At the time, this was the most common method of identity theft.
In 2001, I became a victim of identity theft victim a second time. Online shopping sites were in their infancy and internet security technology was not as advanced as it is today. Unfortunately, I made a credit card payment for a product sold on an unsecured website. My personal data was stolen and my credit card was charged with a number of fraudulent purchases. Fortunately, I discovered the fraud early and the bank was able to stop it and limit the damage.
Be warned! There are still unsecure online shopping sites operating today.
Please do not use them!
In chapters 3 & 4 our story, our poor fall guy Victor, uses the internet for online shopping. He has no sense of security and suffers immensely. If you are not sure about what can happen to you when you are on the internet, then you would do well to reread these chapters.
What Information is Collected and Why?
When a business is requesting personal information from you, it is reasonable to ask what information will be collected and why it is needed. If they request information that isn’t relevant the website should clearly state why they need it.
If there is no explanation for the request try to avoid giving the additional information or ask them why they need it. Asking for your income or the name of your spouse is the kind of information you might question providing without reasonable cause.
How is the Information Collected?
While filling out paper forms are straight forward in the “bricks and mortar” world, providing information is very different in the online world.
You need to find out from websites how the information is being collected. Information can be collected in web forms or by electronically “behind the scenes” programs called cookies that are automatically installed on the visitor’s computer. Cookies track information about the web pages users click on, how long they spend there and the web address.
What is the Information used for?
If the online business asks for your personal or financial information you have a right to know what it will be used for.
Who Will Have Access to Your Information?
Watch out for terms like “partners”, “affiliates” or “sponsors”, since you will have no idea who will be receiving your private information.
How Secure is Your Information?
What steps has the website taken to protect your personal information? Any transaction where you enter and submit personal information should have SSL (Secure Socket Layers). SSL will encrypt the information so that it can’t be read by others during transmission. We will discuss website security in detail later in this chapter.
Can You Correct Your Personal Information?
Can You ‘Opt-Out’?
Wherever your information may be shared you have the right to ‘opt-out’. In some cases you can click an opt-in or opt-out box when entering your information. Make sure that these small boxes haven’t already checked as “default”, since legally you are implying that you are accepting the offer even if you haven’t personally checked the box.
How do you detect online shopping scams?
Scammers love online shopping because it is very easy for them to target victims. Shoppers’ have to distinguish between an honest trader and a scammer. This is not as easy as you may think!
Scammers are professional sales people who use proven social engineering techniques to trick you into doing something you wouldn’t normally do. For example, scammers may pretend to sell you a product online at very cheap prices; but they are actually looking for your credit card or bank account details. They may take your money and send you a faulty or worthless product – or even send you nothing at all.
The important thing is that when they make a sale, they have captured what they wantâ€¦..your sensitive data like name, address, credit card number, bank accounts etc. They have tricked you into giving them your sensitive details in exchange for a worthless product!
Buyer Protection Schemes
Many online businesses put a lot of effort into protecting their customers from scammers. Some websites provide buyer protection schemes that will cover you if you are the victim of fraud.
Credit card companies Visa and MasterCard; payment processing companies PayPal & ClickBank; and banks around the world have buyer protection schemes.
If you buy something through eBay or PayPal and it never arrives, or if it arrives significantly different than originally described by the seller, then you’re eligible for a full refund. Check out PayPal’s Buyer Protection policy, and learn how to open a dispute.
If you ever see a transaction in your PayPal account that you didn’t authorize, you should report it immediately to PayPal. They will begin an investigation and help you get your money back. You can learn more about this process here.
You should also be aware of sellers on online auction sites. They may offer to make a deal to you outside of the terms of eBay website. This is usually a good sign of a scam. You will also lose any fraud protection that eBay may provide.
You must stay one step ahead of the scammers. The SCAMwatch website provides detailed advice about online shopping & auction scams, internet scams and many other scams that target you. You can learn how scams work, how to protect yourself, and report a scam via SCAMwatch.
Basic Tips for protecting yourself when shopping online
Here are some important safety tips for online shopping:
Use your credit card instead of a debit card: Credit cards offer better protection against identity theft than debit cards. For instance, when you use a credit card, your liability for any fraudulent charges is maximum $50, on the condition that you report the fraud within 30 to 60 days and you weren’t party to the fraud.
On the other hand, when someone gains access to your debit card, and they clean your savings account, you may not be able to recover any of money at all.
Use disposable credit cards: A recommended way to use a credit card is to get a disposable credit card. This works like any gift card from a bricks and mortar shop. You load it with a specified amount of money and the card is good until that amount is consumed. Then the card becomes worthless.
This will protect you from identity theft. If a disposable credit card is stolen, the criminals will only gain access to the unused amount on the card. They cannot reload the card with additional funds.
Check the website security. Before making any payments online through shopping cart sites, you should check the site’s security. There are different levels of security available.
You can check the URL web address. This is the box in the web browser where you type the website’s online address e.g. www.anystore.com.
A secure website will start the URL web address with HTTPS:// instead of the usual HTTP: //. Also, you should see a small lock icon in the screen which indicates that the site is a secure.
This security level means that the online stores database and data transmissions for your transaction that made over the internet have been fully secured. The transaction is locked and receiver must use the correct key to open the transactionâ€¦.just like a key to a house!
Data transmissions that should be secured include:
Online downloads; and
Payment transfers between the site and other sites.
A single online transaction will access the databases of a bank, a payment processing company, a credit card company and a secure online storage company etc.
Don’t shop online from public computers. If you want to shop online, then do so from the comfort of your own home. This ensures that you use your own secured computer which is free from internet nasties like viruses and worms, malware and spyware & botnets.
Shopping online at an internet café can be very dangerous because the computer and the wireless network may not be secure. Hackers can easily steal your private data from internet café’s.
Read and understand the website’s terms & conditions and privacy statements. Before buying online, make sure that you understand exactly what is involved in the purchase. The terms and conditions of your purchase should be outlined by the seller on the website. They may be located on a separate web page to the advertisement.
The terms and conditions should be clear to you and outline any extra warranties or guarantees, security policies, privacy and returns. Make sure that you understand all the disclaimers of responsibility before you accept the terms and conditions.
Credit Card Security codes. If you use a credit card with a magnetic stripe, then online stores will require the CVV or card verification number when you make a purchase.
You will find the CVV code on the back of your credit card in the signature bar. The last 3 digits of the code are required to be entered into the website online payment page. This number is designed to prevent fraudulent purchases from someone who does not have your card but may have stolen your personal details like name; card number and expiration date.
Advanced security measures. Another security feature credit card companies are using is to create a second level of security by adding an additional password. An example of this is Verified by Visa or Mastercard Secure Code. These are optional security features provided by selected websites or payment processing systems.
If you activate the code and shop on sites that carry the Verified by Visa or Mastercard Secure Code logos, the check out process will require the entry and validation of additional secret password or PIN that you previously have set up. The purchase cannot be authorized without successful validation of this second password or PIN.
Automatic teller machines (ATM) and point of sale terminals also have this option to enter a PIN number for magnetic stripe cards. Modern Micro-chip & PIN technologies also provide a pass-over option where you don’t have to swipe your card through an electronic readerâ€¦you just pass your card by the electronic sensor and it reads all the cards details. You then enter a PIN into the machine for verification. These technologies are designed to prevent skimming attacks by hackers  .
Phishing Emails – Don’t Get Reeled In. Be aware of email scams designed to gain access to your credit card information. Phishing scams have been discussed at length in chapters 3, 4, 16 & 17 in this book.
Use a secure web browser when surfing online. How you pick the best web browser to use? There are many choices in how you can experience the world-wide-web. Some popular internet browsers include Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Chrome, and Safari to name a few.
You should choose a popular browser is always safe but it also needs to have extra security features. By this I mean that it has additional security add-ons available.
Internet Explorer has been active since the beginning of the internet. This web browser is preloaded on every computer that uses the Microsoft operating system. Unfortunately, history has proven that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer isn’t the safest web browser available on the market.
A competitor called Mozilla Firefox is quickly dominating the field. As of July 2010, Firefox has become the second most widely used Internet browser. Google Chrome, Opera and Safari are also fast becoming major players in the market.
Read this review of web browsers from PCWorld.
What makes Firefox special?
This web browser features pop-up blocking, tab-browsing, easy to use privacy controls and an integrated Google search bar. In addition, Firefox provides you with over 1 billion add-ons and has about 120 million users.
Many of its add-ons offer additional protection for a safer online buying experience. For example, the add-on Web of Trust shows a traffic-light rating based on four factors: trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety of a web page. McAfee SiteAdvisor is a similar add-on and Adblock Plus stops banner ads and pop-ups. Pop-ups can also carry computer viruses which can infect your system.
What about other web browsers like Opera, Chrome & Safari?
You may think that the latest Internet browsers: Opera, Chrome, Safari, etc. are best to web browsers to use. However, they’re mostly brand new and still in the beta stages of testing. This means that not all the bugs and glitches on them have been all figured out. On the other hand Mozilla Firefox is already a proven web browser. Today, it’s considered a full operating web browser.
In the near future, Opera, Chrome or other web browsers may overtake Firefox. Firefox is also continually updating its browser. However, for the moment, Firefox is the safest online shopping and security due to its many layers of security add-ons and customization.
Before you do any online purchasing, you need to be sure your computer is secure with anti-virus software. This has been discussed thoroughly is chapters 16 & 17 of this book. By following these tips using Mozilla Firefox with adequate anti-virus protection will give you the confidence you need to have a safe online shopping experience.
Online auction scams and how to avoid them
Buying and browsing items online is a real treat and online auctions like eBay can deliver some real bargains! However, as usual there are many scams to trap you.
Here are some really good tips for avoiding eBay scams and having a really great online shopping experience.
Take note of the shipping prices. These can have a great effect on the total cost of the item. Some sellers will absorb the shipping costs, while others require you to pay the cost. If you have two vendors selling the same items with similar prices, then check out the best shipping offer.
Check the online auction seller feedback scores: The most important precaution you should make is to check the online auction sellers’ feedback score. This score is vital because it is the reflection of the sellers’ credibility.
This score tells you whether a seller can be trusted or not. If the online seller has feedback score greater than 95%, then it is most likely that the seller is reliable. You should also see the detailed feedback about the seller. Check the most recent buyers’ comments because they are a great hint as to how your prospective seller is like to do business with.
Follow up on any negative comments and ask the complainant what the real problem is. If there are a number of negative comments about postage times, shipping, and delays, then the seller is not reliable.
Keep On Browsing: Just like in real life shopping at bricks and mortar stores, there are online vendors that sell overpriced items. Prices vary from seller to sellerâ€¦.some offering a good deal, other not so good! It is important that you browse through a number of sellers that offer the same item to get the best price. Browsing through a sellers’ page is absolutely free so explore your choices. This is the best thing you can do make sure that you don’t get ripped off.
Pay for online auction purchases through PayPal: If you want to use a secure online payment system, then PayPal would be the service to have. PayPal and the eBay auction site merged in 2002 to form the largest online auction site in the world.
The PayPal payment systems are the most reliable and secure payment processing you can get. There are no extra charges to pay and payment conversion is automatic.
PayPal has an excellent after sales service, particularly in resolving disputes and returns. If the seller hasn’t contacted you and your item hasn’t arrived, then you can go to your eBay account and fill in a complaint form. This is transferred directly to PayPal and they organize your refund.
PayPal have a very quick and efficient dispute resolution system. It should only be used if your seller hasn’t contacted you within a month.
Ask Questions: It would be best if you ask your prospective seller questions regarding the product. This way you will not encounter any misunderstandings and will have an understanding. Questions about price, quality, quantity and shipping are important.
What Are They Selling? You should always be suspicious and check out thorough what the person has been selling over time. For example, if you see that they has been selling cheap magazine clippings in the past year and now are selling Gulfstream jets, there is obviously a reason to be suspicious.
How to Avoid Internet Scams on Adult Websites
Adult sites are very popular but criminals use these websites for identity theft purposes?
There are two ways by which identity fraud can happen on adult websites. The most common method is the scammer enticing the unsuspecting user to download a file from the website containing a virus, malware or spyware, which in turn harms your computer. You can protect yourself from this fraud by installing a good anti-virus or anti-malware program (see chapter 16 & 17)
You can also be an identity theft victim of when you unknowingly download a keylogger or dialer program or pop-up advertisement. This allows criminals to hijack your computer and steal vital information. For example, if you shop online regularly, they can use your credit card details to make online purchases.
You can also check the ownership of a website using the free search tool on the website Whois MyDomain. This website contributes to user confidence in the Internet by promoting legitimate uses of the websites including digital inclusion and e-commerce. The site helps users to identify the persons or entities responsible for web content and online services.
If other family members use the computer, limit their access to see white-listed websites. This prevents others from accidentally downloading something into the computer. If your children are alone, you need to blacklist or block adult sites so they can’t visit adult sites.
Most internet users won’t know if the adult website is fraudulent or not. Therefore it is advisable to install a website monitoring system. This program is designed to keep a log all the programs that are installed and visited. Website Monitoring programs can also be setup to automatically enforce a “no downloading policy” and “no unsupervised surfing” policy. For example, if your teenage child visits a blacklisted pornographic website, a message will appear informing the web surfer that the site cannot be visited. This ensures that your child will not be victimized when they are online.
If you use Adult websites, you should always review your credit card bill or phone bill for any charges which you knew were never made. The earlier that you report these calls, the earlier the credit card or the telephone company will be able to adjust your account.
Adult internet sites are not the only websites that are used by fraudsters. Charities, auction sites and commercial websites are also being used as a front by criminal gangs. If you think the site you are visiting is not legitimate, leave the site and report it to the police.
Dating and Romance scams
This scam takes advantage of your romantic side by befriending you. You may be a single person looking for love and are very vulnerable to attack.
The scammers are professionals who can pretend to be whatever you think they are. In the online world you are anonymous, so you can pretend to be some-one else.
For example, a male scammer could pretend to be a gorgeous female who is really interested in you. Female scammers can also pretend to be some-one elseâ€¦and so on!
The scammers know the right emotional buttons you have and form an “online relationship” with you. When they have your complete confidence, they often start asking you for money. Normally this type of scam happens on dating sites and online social networks like MySpace or FaceBook.
Online scammers are NOT interested in having a relationship with you no matter how attractive you may be. They have only one interest and that is to take advantage of you and defraud you!
Never trust anybody you meet on the web unless you know and trust them in real life. In the real world, you need to spend quite some time with a person before you get to know them well enough to enter into a relationship with them.
Here is an example of a dating and romantic scam that I received in my e-mail
Good day, dear!
I am looking for a strong, kind, caring man. In my life I have almost everything except love. Everything I want is to be loved by a man like you.
You seemed to me very interesting and different from others. And I think you are the man I was looking for such a long time.
You can be sure, I will make you the happiest man in the world! I will make true all your fantasies. And I can be for you not only a perfect lover, but the best friend and good wife. We will spend all our free time together.
I need you here. I need you like my lungs need air.
I do not find strange that my second half is so far away, my destiny and life has been all over the world, but now that I found you, I really need you near me as soon as possible.
Please write me. I will be waiting for your letter http://finebeautifulwomen.net/6184/
See you later
I immediately deleted the e-mail as spam. I am happily marriedâ€¦
Online Gambling Scams
There are many risks involved in online gambling. The game i
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