7 Tips to Avoid Online Fraud

In recognition of Internet Safety Month in June, The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod is highlighting seven tips to help consumers protect themselves from online fraud.

“The Internet has become one of the most popular tools used to commit fraud and criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated with their hacking techniques,” said Paul Forni, Assistant Vice President, Information Security & Red Flag Officer. “As a result, it’s extremely important for consumers to secure their wireless networks and filter the amount of personal information they choose to divulge online.”

In addition to the following tips, Forni will be presenting “Protecting Your Assets by Preventing Identity Theft” at the Prime Time of Your Life Expo on Saturday, June 11 at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center. He recommends the following tips to keep you safe online:

  • Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on “automatic updates” so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
  • Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
  • Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov, and to the company, bank or organization impersonated in the email.
  • Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you don’t know.
  • Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you’re sending over it.
  • Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you’re at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
  • Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.