Everyone wants to be a winner. You may have seen the pop-up or big letters on a webpage announcing that you have won an iPad2, $1000, or some other grand prize. All you need to do is “Click here to win your prize!” It seems simple and harmless, but you should know where it is taking you, what you’re giving up, and what could be loaded on your computer.
Users are taken to these sites when they mistype well known domain names such as wikipedia.com, amazon.com, and youtube.com. (I’ll let you conduct your own research, but you can see a list here: http://www.bfk.de/bfk_dnslogger.html?query=188.8.131.52#result. They all resolve to the same IP address. I don’t want anyone accidently clicking on a link to a bad site. Proceed at your own risk!)
I’ve included a screenshot as an example:
To “claim” your prize, you need to enter much of your personal information on a site whose origin is questionable.
Some of these websites even have their own form of privacy policies stating exactly what they’d do with your personal information. Basically, once you give it to them, they can do with it as they please.
They can sell it, give it away, or use it without ever informing you or asking further permission. They can even perform further background checks on you. Since you agree to the policy when you click submit, there may be nothing you can do to stop them; especially if the site owners are in another country.
To avoid this type of fraud, it’s important to remember, “Stop. Think. Click.” from staysafeonline.org. The Protect Yourself website (http://www.staysafeonline.org/in-the-home/protect-yourself) contains a number of great tips to help all webizens. From that website, comes this:
“Use your judgment about what you post about yourself on Internet sites. When any site requests information about you, ask these questions:
- Who is asking?
- What information are they asking for?
- Why do they need it?
Think about the amount and detail of information being requested.”
Another good website on Identity Theft protection is from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC): http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/data/idt.shtm. What other websites do you recommend?
Are there other tips you recommend to keep yourself and others safe and secure online? Feel free to leave comments below.
Be aware when you surf and remember to “Trust, but verify.”