Keeping your Personal Information Safe.
Scammers have to send hundreds, even thousands of emails in order to hook just one prospective victim. Most recipients recognize the scam email for what it is and delete it, reply with abuse (not recommended), or even report it to the Scammer’s ISP. Very occasionally though, a recipient will take the email seriously and that is when the Scammer gets to work. Your e.mail address is therefore valuable to a Scammer.
So, what can you do to help keep your details private? First, let’s look at your e.mail address. The moment you send an e.mail or type your e.mail address into an online form, guest book, or website, the chances of it falling into the hands of a Scammer increase.
Although most reputable companies require you to opt in to receive email, this doesn’t always happen. Websites hosted in the third world often do not recognize any form of data protection and once your details are out there, you will never be able to retract them.
Here are a few common sense procedures that you can take:
Use a free, disposable e.mail address (gmail is ideal) for signing up on websites or giving out over the phone and save your private email address for trusted sources, like relatives and friends.
Rather than give out your personal home or mobile phone numbers to third parties, use a pay as you go mobile number in an old, spare handset kept purely for this purpose. Alternatively, give out a free redirect number (FleXtel is one provider) or a voicemail only number (K7 is one provider).
Beware when using comparison websites (ie, utilities, mobile phone contracts, etc). NEVER enter your real life details, name, address, or phone numbers, as these sites are infamous for selling your information to marketers. Use similar details to ensure that your comparison results are accurate and meaningful, but it is suggested that you change your street address to one that is non-existent, and use your disposable e.mail address and phone number.
When paying for products and services over the internet, if you have the option of paying via PayPal, choose this over entering your bank card details into a website payment page. Just ensure that you are on the real PayPal website by looking for https://www.paypal.com in the URL address bar at the top of the page.
Finally, even reputable companies may not properly safeguard your info. We read in the news about company databases being hacked and customers’ details being stolen. Whilst there is little that you can do about that, taking the above common sense precautions will help to prevent your precious personal information falling into the hands of a Scammer.