Being Safe on the Internet
The internet has increasingly become an integral part of our daily lives and many now rely on it to make friends, start romances, shop and pay bills. Unfortunately, this has also given fraudsters and criminals new ways to exploit its users. It is important to be aware of how to protect ourselves from internet dangers that can harm our social and financial status, and mental health.
Dangers of the Internet
As of March 2020, over 36 000 Australians had first-hand experienced scams, and 26% of consumers in Indonesia had fallen victim to online fraud. Often scams take the form of emails, pop-ups and social media messages and are aimed at defrauding victims. Phishing is a popular method of scamming.
Phishing: emails or instant messages that will urge you to click a link in order to act upon an urgent matter or win a voucher.
These messages will appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank, but will often contain grammatical or spelling errors and unrefined business logos. They are aimed at deceiving a person into providing their personal and financial information.
Upon clicking the link, the victim will be redirected to a site that appears similar to the site of the company being impersonated. They will be asked to input their financial details, or malware will automatically infect the device and steal credit card or bank details.
If you encounter an email or message of this nature, do not click on the link or reply. Rather, go directly to the company’s website and contact customer service.
If you have clicked on the link, immediately disconnect your device from the internet and conduct a full scan of your device using your antivirus software. You should also change all passwords and back up any important files onto an external hard drive.
Catfishing occurs when an individual creates a fake online profile (using stolen photos) and attempts to defraud others or establish relationships. Catfish usually create a more appealing version of themselves or will invent a completely false persona.
Catfish may deceive others due to:
- Self-esteem issues
- Confusions about sexuality and/or gender
- Wanting to escape reality
Although the majority of catfish cases aren’t malicious, they can harm the mental health of victims once deception is discovered.
If you think you are being catfished, the following steps are recommended:
- Conduct a reverse image search of the photos on their profile and identify what social media accounts they are connected to
- Scrutinise any phone numbers they call from: does the area code match where they say they live? Can you call them back? If you attempt to call them, but are unable to connect, the number may be fake.
- Google Search their profile name- does it appear on any scammer-beware sites?
Fake news can be defined as information that has little to no factual basis and is therefore most likely untrue. It is most prevalent on social media, through clickbait content that tends to cause panic or spread misinformation.
To determine whether you are reading fake news:
- Look at the source
Determine whether it is reputable and information included is accurate.
- Check the citations
If citations exist, check that they are reputable and recent.
- Do a Google search
Search for the claims in the article and determine if any other reputable sources of information can corroborate the material.