How to Be Safe On the Internet
The Cloudtrainer offices were recently contacted by a nice lady who was enquiring about the £250 she had deposited into our account.
Our first thought was that no customer of ours would ever have to contact us about any deposit made to our accounts. We like to keep people up-to-date with any and all transactions made to us, so anyone in confusion would be unusual.
Upon listening to the message again, it became clear that the lady in question was looking for an “Organisation” (the quotes will be become clearer later in this blog) called Cloud Trading… but more on this later.
This is a common mistake, there are a lot of providers out there on the internet and many are vying for names that reflect the things they do.. It’s getting crowded. Amidst the crowds and confusion and among the legitimate companies, like ours, there are SCAMS.
In the UK last year there were over 3.6 million cases of fraud online. This is a worrying & growing statistic. It ranges across a wide variety of demographics, companies and individuals. The perpetrators of such scams can be state sponsored or in some cases, a tech-savvy individual behind a computer screen.
On the other side of the coin, we are being inundated by banks and online service providers on how to remain safe online. Ironically, some of these reminders are actually the scams themselves, masquerading as legitimate help. So the whole thing is really quite confusing and you should be under no illusion, anyone can be duped!
In light of this, there are some important measures to take in being able to identify internet scams.
How to Avoid Internet Scams
Protect Your Information
There’s a simple rule of thumb when you receive an email with your bank’s logo, a query about your points card at the supermarket, or your car insurance needing a verify your details – no organisation will ever ask you to “Verify” via email anything you have already provided. This includes passwords, name, date of birth, memorable words or, of, course your bank details. They will ask you to log in to your account and check something, but there will rarely be a link in the email as well, so you will have to open your internet browser and log in there.
(On the topic of passwords, there is a really useful program called Lastpass. It’s really good, fast, simple, and secure.. Just the way we like it.)
Do Some Research
Some of the best advice we have taken is simply this, take 5 minutes and think about the communication you have received, google or search your bank or the organisation that has contacted you, and contact them back through their official website. They will know who you are and if it was legit they will assist you.
At Cloudtrainer we never ask for your personal details, or to verify personal information. And we don’t store payment information at all. This, like most companies, is handled by an online payment provider, like Stripe in our case. Which we should say is fast, easy and secure if you’re looking for one.
In short this is the crime of our time, and like most internet based endeavours, it can be conveniently done any time from anywhere.
With growing convenience comes growing opportunities for scams to hit more people, more of the time and with growing levels of sophistication.
Cloud Trader… (Not Cloudtrainer) it would appear, is one of these.
We were able to contact the nice lady in question at the top of the blog and advise her to contact Action Fraud to see if there is anything that could be done.
In honesty though, it would seem that once the money has been deposited into a scammer’s bank account there is little that can be done other than contact your bank and hope they are understanding. Reporting fraud is crucial as it is the only way that these scammers will be shut down.
A lot of scammers prey on our better natures.. Our desire to do the right thing. Shout out to Barclays Bank for this rather clever ad that sums up the problem really well.
You could become paranoid about making transactions online… you shouldn’t be, just be mindful. For all the scams out there, there are many organisations and lots of technology designed to protect you. Reputable companies will utilise this to reassure you.
It’s also worth remembering that most of these scams require YOU to do something.. So really the human component is the weakest link.. With this in mind just be mindful of what YOU are being asked to do and if it sounds just a bit suspicious, take 5 and think about it.
The internet is a fast moving technology the challenges to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters are great. A well informed public is key in this fight and remembering that there is no such thing as a stupid question has never been more relevant when it comes to online wellbeing.
At Cloudtrainer, we recognise the importance of having a secure system and we pride ourselves on providing one. Here are some links to sites offering useful information about how to stay safe online and identify suspicious activity.