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Avoiding online scams

It's Scam Awareness Week, and David Hall has some tips to keep you safe online.
Phishing is essentially an online scam, and phishers are nothing more than tech-savvy con artists.
Online scams constantly evolve to reflect popular events in the news. They're successful is because a scam is not about physically attacking a computer, rather fooling the user into clicking on a poisoned link. They use spam, malicious websites, email messages and instant messages to trick people into divulging sensitive information, such as bank and credit card accounts.
According to the latest Norton Cybercrime Report, more than 868,206 New Zealanders fell victim to cybercrime in 2010, suffering $288.2 million in direct financial losses.
Phishers may use email to request personal information and direct recipients to respond through malicious websites.
Look out for phishers using emotional language, scare tactics or urgent requests to entice recipients to respond.
Phishing sites can look remarkably legitimate, because they tend to use the copyrighted images from legitimate sites.
Be on the lookout for requests for confidential information via email or instant message.
Remember that fraudulent messages are often not personalised and poorly written.
Lastly, think about any offer, any advertisement, any email, and website before you act on any request. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Norton has several free and premium products that can help protect against online scams.
Norton Mobile Security Lite protects your mobile device against loss, theft and malware. Safeguard against malicious URLs by scanning your Facebook feed using Norton Safe Web, which protects your friends by advising them of malicious links.
The Norton Snap QR Code Reader protects your mobile device from online threats by warning you of dangerous QR codes and blocking unsafe websites before they load on your device.
Norton Identity Safe gives you secure access to your website logins, credit card details and secure notes if you're using a computer at an internet cafe or hotel business centre.
Not all antivirus programs are equipped to handle scams, because they only look to protect against intrusive attacks such as viruses. A security program such as Norton One and Norton 360 Version 6 will block or warn you about spam emails and protect you on the web by alerting you if you have stumbled on to a fraudulent or phishing website.
David Hall is Symantec's North Asia product manager. 

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