We all run the risk of being cheated in many aspects of our daily lives and computers are not an exception. If you don’t pay enough attention you may easily end up swindled, robbed or just made to look like a complete fool.
There are several ways you can wind up in any of these unpleasant situations, so we thought it would be a good idea to create a list of the most common ones to help you avoid them now and in the future.
1. Download magic software
Any relatively popular program has its own fake version, usually bloated with ads, viruses and malware. Apps like Ares or eMule are the most forged ones. You should suspect it’s a fake when, after installing eMule, you’re asked to enter a serial key, call a given phone number or send a text message. Obviously, the easiest way to avoid these fake copies is downloading software only from a reliable source such as Softonic.
There are a couple of alternative situations to this case: one is when you suddenly find the latest version of a well-known program that includes new, incredible features. Did you hear about that new Live MSN Messenger with support for satellite connections, air conditioning and remote assistance to manage the dishwasher? I don’t think that’s the original program! The other alternative is downloading software you intend to use for nefarious purposes, such as multiplayer game tricks, key generators and the like. You’d better have an updated antivirus tool in this case: a lot of the guys who develop a lot of these programs aren’t exactly into truth and honesty themselves.
2. Believe anything you receive by email
Some people say we shouldn’t believe half of what we see, but when talking about email, I’d say it should be more like 90 percent.
You see, if an exiled African president whose name you vaguely recognise needs someone to withdraw his savings from a Swiss bank account, he probably wouldn’t contact you by email. This is the world famous Nigerian or 419 scam, which some people sadly still fall for. Similarly, if MSN is going to shut down permanently, Microsoft’s customer services manager probably won’t send you a message all in caps and full of typos (well… maybe he would). Nobody really knows where these hoaxes from, but you should simply ignore them, as they’re only intended to obtain personal data from you, waste your time or take your money.
In these cases, the best solution is not to forward emails, and if you need to, use the BCC field to keep email addresses private.
3. Give your passwords away
You may be giving your passwords away without even noticing it, mainly for three reasons: being infected with a Trojan, jotting them down on a sticky note and then sticking it to your monitor or entering them at seemingly innocuous but actually malicious websites.
This last situation, also known as phishing, is by far the most dangerous one. These forged websites are identical copies of the original ones, usually online banking services or popular online services like eBay or PayPal. Fortunately, web browsers and search engines are constantly improving their phishing filters, which can help to prevent you from being swindled.
Likewise, ignore any email that asks you for your password in any of those aforementioned services. It’ll probably be fraudulent.
4. Did you say it’s free?
If you see the word “free” on any website, make a skeptical face before actually believing it’s free. Many websites less trustworthy than Softonic, for example, say ‘free’ and mean something completely different. Always read the terms and conditions before clicking ‘I accept’.
5. Click here for a free lunch
There is no such thing as a free lunch, so if you see a really good offer for an incredibly low amount of money, don’t trust it. It could be a fake copy of what you’re really looking for.
When you buy online, pay attention to detail and read everything twice: product description, shipping fees, returning policies, extra taxes and so on. You’ll stay away from trouble and hopefully won’t end up with an xbox360 BOX rather than the whole console. Also, don’t hesitate to look for more information on Google if you’re still not sure: Googling a website’s name or URL can often provide you with a wealth of information.
6. You’re so cute!
This is by far the most common way to fool people online. The positive side to it is that it doesn’t affect your bank account, but your self-esteem instead. The usual setting: you’ve been chatting with a lovely man/woman for two weeks, you know think you know everything about them, you’ve got a hundred photos of them… until you see those same images on some other forum.
Yes, you’ve been fooled. But don’t be sad: it’s something that happens all the time, to many different people. Take it as a fun joke and always remember it could have been much worse.
[Via: ONSoftware Spain]