Crystal Valley Blog

How to Avoid Online Crooks!

POSTED September 10, 2019

Internet-enabled theft, fraud, and corruption accounted for $2.7 billion in financial losses in 2018. According to Federal Trade Commission, victims lost $143 million in romance schemes alone last year! That’s more than any other type of fraud reported to the federal government.

To drive home the danger, FBI’s counsel about online scams uses the following car safety analogies:

  • Don’t drive in unfamiliar or questionable neighborhoods;
  • If you don’t lock it, it’s vulnerable;
  • Reduce your vulnerability and you reduce the threat.

Gotta love that relatable car-centric advice to figure out how to take the necessary precautions and avoid being scammed. 

Protect your Computer

A firewall protects your computer from hackers trying to gain access, delete information, or steal passwords and other confidential information. Software firewalls are recommended for all (un-networked) computers which may have come prepacked on your operating system, but it can also be purchased. 

Antivirus software prevents malicious programs from embedding themselves onto your computer. If the software detects a threat – like a virus or a worm, it will disarm or remove it. Most antivirus software updates automatically, so you don’t have to worry about getting the latest revision.

Attackers, Spies, and Hackers Oh My!

Anti-spyware is another protection measure to keep your computer safe and your online activities private. Spyware is just what it sounds like, software that is sneakily installed on your computer that allows unsavory characters to spy on you, collect information without your consent and sometimes push pop-up ads onto your web browser. Be wary of ads on the internet offering downloadable anti-spyware programs which may actually contain spyware or some other malicious code. 

The FBI says it’s like buying groceries – only shop where you trust the supplier!

The advice we find everywhere is to periodically – at least — turn off your computer. While we tend to leave our computers on and ready for action, the downside is that convenience leaves your computer susceptible to attacks. Turning off your computer disconnects the invader and stymies the invaders. For the latest e-scams and cyber-cons, visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint page.

Is it a Legitimate Site?

There are two quick ways to tell if a website is legitimate, plus one that takes a little more time and effort on your part. 

URLs that start with “https” are secured websites that have been encrypted using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates that protect private data moving between a data server and your web browser. Some sites are also independently certified by a trust mark like Norton Secured Seal or McAfee Secure certification. 

The final check is to consult the WHOIS information of website owners’ names and locations. WHOIS literally means “Who is responsible for a domain name or an IP address?”

If you want to find out whether a website is suspect, check the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, or one of many Internet Fraud Detection lists for complaints or incidents of fraud. 

Safety First! In Crystal Valley 

We’re big on safety in and around the master-planned community of Crystal Valley, and are always on the lookout for our residents’ well-being. When you purchase a new homes from Richmond American Homes, Kauffman Homes, Century Communities and D.R. Horton – you move into a close-knit, welcoming community. Set in natural surroundings with easy access to nearby amenities, find the new home of your dreams here in either a ranch and two-story model, priced from the $300s. 

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