The internet is a wonderful resource that allows computer users at home, in the workplace, or at a library or cybercafe the ability to research information, perform transactions, or communicate with individuals or businesses quickly, cheaply and effectively. Yet the internet, for the wealth of the resources it provides, can often prove overwhelming, and many of us end up being victims to online predators instead of victors in accomplishing our own personal and financial goals. Those without a lot of expertise in using their PC may find themselves caught up in the web of lies that spammers and other solicitors engage in. There are a few practical measures you may wish to employ to ensure that your communications are secure, and that it is safe for you to proceed in responding to the website or email that you have before you. Before finding yourself a victim of identity fraud or forking money over on a scheme ask yourself a few questions.
- Is this email from someone I’ve sent a message to first, is it a reply to a legitimate communication on my end or is this from someone who appears to know my interests or business transcations on the net? A lot of the correspondence that is out there is now under the guise that you contacted them first. I’ve been searching for jobs and soliciting applications through email; now I’m getting “responses” from “employers” who I never contacted, and it’s always “RE:” in the subject line, as if to be in response to a particular job I’ve contacted for. It isn’t anything for someone to post a “legitimate” job on the web, for you to apply for it, and them for them to switch that with a telecommuting or sales opportunity anyone could do that pays a high 5 figures or one in which you have to pay a fee to register. They take the a look at your application patterns and hope you’ve applied for so many you’ll forget, or that you’re so desperate you’ll waste time and money somewhere on an opportunity that either isn’t for you, or an opportunity at all. Think twice about it.
- Rather than reply to a vendor of which you’ve identified their communication as “junk” mail, use the tools that are available through your email providert. Classify the message as junk or spam before you even waste your time reading it to begin with, particularly given the fact that not all viruses that are spread through email require that a message needs to be clicked on to be sent to your computer.
- By now I’m sure everyone is using spyware blockers or other tools to clean your system of cookies after you’ve browsed the net. You can remove spyware all you want, but it’s easier to remove individual cookies through Firefox or another open source browser. You can set your browser to prompt you to accept cookies first. This may be a popular option for anyone who has a spyware program in use, but aren’t paying the extra fees to use the software as a “cookie firewall”. It is a nusaunce but it’s worth the trouble of going through and removing cookies later on after the fact. Plus, why would you want cookies from sites you aren’t doing business with to begin with.
You can browse the net without getting taken advantage of each and every time. Part of the battle is descerning which sites you want to allow to store profiles of you and your information on your computer, and which sites you do not trust to do so. It’s not just about loosing money, through identify theft or buying products and services that aren’t as they were represented to be through the businesses that were selling them, it’s about peace of mind, and the right to acquire information freely, the way the internet was intened to be used to begin with.