Safe Tech Practices to Keep Your Information Out of the Wrong Hands

We live in a time where the world is at our fingertips. Many have access to digital devices, and those who do not can find a number of digital inclusion programs that are now surfacing across the country to create more equitable, inclusive communities. But with the convenience of technology also comes the possibility of your information falling into the wrong hands. That’s why it is so important to understand safe tech practices when using your devices.

Safe Tech Practices for Email

Emailing has been around for a long time, giving scammers decades to practice new ways to take advantage of people’s information. It’s important to follow safe email practices and be on the lookout for dangerous and deceiving emails.

Look out for phishy emails

One thing to look out for is phishing. When phishing occurs, it means that individuals are posing as a company or institute to get users to provide sensitive information. Every month, around 1.5 million new phishing sites are set up.

Initially, it may look like the email has come from a reliable source. But, there are clues to spot a possible phishing scam.

Here are a few things to pay attention to when you suspect phishing:

  • Look for spelling and grammar errors
  • Never open links or attachments from unknown emails
  • Never login to websites from an email link
  • Always go to a company’s website to get into an account or find a phone number
  • Be skeptical if there is a sense of urgency

Example of phishing

There are a couple of red flags in this email.

  1. If you did not send instructions to delete the account, this statement can cause a sense of urgency and panic. You may act quickly without thinking through whether this message is a scam.
  2. There is a limited time constraint and the possibility of losing something you value – again, causing urgency.
  3. The phrase “immediately” is yet another attempt to cause panic and quick decision-making.
  4. The note at the bottom discourages you from trying to investigate the situation by speaking to a representative of the company.

Safe Tech Practices for Browsing

Browsing simply means using a web browser. Think “surfing the web”, “looking it up online”, or “Googling it”. Just as there are safe practices for emailing, you must also pay attention to safety practices when browsing the internet.

Here are a few tips for safe browsing practices:

  • Only shop from reputable websites
  • Avoid sharing personal info with anyone
  • Be skeptical when any amount of money is involved. In 2020, people ages 50 and older lost $1.8 billion to online fraud.
  • Be knowledgeable of common scams
  • If skeptical of a scam, conduct a web search
  • Create strong passwords with numbers, characters, and letters
  • Avoid using the same password for everything
  • Avoid accessing private information on a public network

There are many scams going around across the internet and they are always evolving. It’s important to keep up to date with the tricks scammers are trying to pull so that you can avoid falling for one.

Common Scams

Tech support scam

Criminals pose as technical support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues. The scammers gain remote access to victims’ devices and sensitive information.

Grandparent scam

Criminals pose as a relative—usually a child or grandchild—claiming to be in immediate financial need. Seniors will provide the scammer with bank information or money thinking that their loved one is in trouble.

Government impersonation scam

Criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.

Digital Kidnapping

Criminals either take over or threaten to take over your social media account and threaten to post inappropriate/damaging material and demand payment.

When in Doubt – Pause

The best way to avoid falling for a scam on your device is to take it slow. Read messages and web pages carefully before taking any action. If you are unsure or suspicious, do not click on the link. Seek advice from a tech professional or tech-savvy friend or family member. In the end, it’s best to be sure you are using legitimate websites and safe practices to keep you and your information out of the hands of scammers.

*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.

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