I was talking to a friend of mine a couple of days ago. She has been running up high phone bills over the weekend. The reason – She entered the green card lottery online. Before she paid by credit card she checked out the website thoroughly made sure it looked legit. The site was well designed had contact email etc.
Her family and friends told her to beware of scam sites. So she went to the US govt website which warned her that there were many companies scamming people for the lottery. She had to run around ringing the Better Business Bureau and few others. As she still was not sure if the company was legit she cancelled her credit card. She also found out even if the card is cancelled it can be charged here in New Zealand. The banks do not protect you against this!

The point I am making is however careful you are sometimes slips happen. Some tips when dealing online.

  • Make sure the site you are making payment looks legit.
  • There are contact details like telephone, Physical address etc
  • At the bottom look for privacy policy, non disclosure etc.
  • Try to avoid suspicious looking sites
  • Avoid sites with popup windows popping constantly

Even then you can get scammed. The other scarier side is identity theft. Once they have your details they can assume your identity and rack up debt and your credit ratings can go down. It takes a long time to undo this.

Some tips to avoid online problems

  • Keep your passwords strong and long.
  • Don’t have one password for all your accounts
  • Change your password often. (keep a spreadsheet to avoid confusion)
  • Use a program like Roboform to do this.

Have a good antivirus program installed in your computer. Even then at times your hard drive can be compromised. I use antivirus plus by Pareto Logic and so far have not had a problem.
A good antivirus program should also detect viruses, spyware, adware, rootkits, ID-theft, keyloggers, Trojan horses and drive-by downloads. Sometimes without your knowing you can download malware from a site you visit. A program like antivirus plus will stop that from happening. I will post more about identity theft in the next couple of days.