A beginner’s guide to fending off hackers and scammers: Part 6 – Avoiding bogus websites

Phishing websites are the scammer’s favourite tool for parting internet users from their hard earned money. These are bogus sites set up in order to fool visitors into submitting personal information, including credit card details, directly to the scammers. Luckily, with a bit of common sense, it is fairly easy to avoid these dishonest sites.

Set up a spam filter

Most email providers now have inbuilt spam filters, and although the occasional non-spam email ends up in their filters, they are particularly good at catching emails from spammers, so if an email has reached your spam folder, and it’s from a person or email address you are not familiar with, don’t even open it.

Be wary of seemingly genuine emails

Even if an email reaches your inbox and it appears to be from a genuine source, you should think twice before you click any link provided, especially if the email is asking you to supply any personal information. It’s much better to close the email and go to the company’s official website, or contact them via phone, to see if the email is genuine and do what is required. However, it is important to stress that you should use their official telephone number of web address, NOT the one in the email.

Only visit secure websites

Official companies will have secure websites, and you can verify if this is the case either by looking for the lock icon in the status bar of your browser or the ‘https:’ prefix of the web address.

Ignore pop-ups

Finally, you should never click on a link in a pop-up no matter how legitimate it may look, because pop-ups are so often used for nefarious reasons and you can never be sure where they might lead you.

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