Tips to Guard Against Internet Fraud
Scam artist and fraud schemes are nothing new, but the Internet has helped bring them to a whole new level. Here are some of the scams you should be aware of.
Beware of fraudulent e-mail. There have been many reported incidents of imposters sending e-mails claiming to be from legitimate companies in an attempt to trick people into providing them with sensitive personal information. These fraudulent e-mails, sometimes referred to as "phishing," often claim to be "urgent," and say that you must immediately reply to confirm, update or provide sensitive personal information (such as a social security number, account number, password, or personal identification number (PIN)) or your account will be closed or some other action will be taken. These fraudulent e-mails may include links to fake Web sites, created to trick you into providing your sensitive personal information. Here are some tips to follow to help protect you from these scams:
- Do not open e-mail from unknown sources — instead immediately delete the e-mail.
- If you get an e-mail that warns you with little or no notice that your mutual fund or other account will be closed or otherwise impacted if you do not immediately confirm, update or supply sensitive personal information, do not reply or click on any link in the e-mail — even it seems to be from a legitimate company, such as Dreyfus. Assume that the e-mail is fraudulent because Dreyfus (and most legitimate companies) will never send you an e-mail like this. If you have concerns about your account call your company directly, or visit their Web site by opening a new browser window and typing in the company URL you know is legitimate.
- Look for the symbol "@" in the URL, which is a common sign of a fake Web address.
- Before submitting personal financial information over the Internet look for evidence that you are on a secure page. Check that there is a padlock icon. The padlock indicates that your personal information is secure during transmission. Also, check that the URL begins with "https," which indicates that the page is secure, and not "http" which indicates that the page is not secure. Be aware though that some imposters have forged secure sites. If you are at all suspicious about the authenticity of a Web page, close the page and visit your company's Web site by opening a new browser window and typing in the company URL you know is legitimate.
- Check your mutual fund and other account statements as soon as you receive them to make sure there are no unauthorized transactions. If your statement is late, call your company to verify your billing address and recent transactions.
- If you receive a suspicious e-mail claiming to be from Dreyfus, or are directed to what appears to be a phony Dreyfus Web site, please contact us immediately.
You should use the same precautions when accessing the Web/e-mail through your BlackBerry cell phone or other mobile device that you would with any wireless network.
The Dangers of Downloading - Adware/Spyware/Malware
Be aware of what you are downloading from the Web. Many fun "free" items for your computer come with additional software that can have a variety of purposes from popping up ads on your computer ("adware"), to tracking your site usage or logging your keystrokes and sending them back to the person who created the software ("spyware"), to installing malicious software ("malware") which may disrupt or even destroy your system. To help prevent the installation of this type of software on your computer, follow these guidelines:
- Only download materials from reputable sites.
- Know exactly what you are downloading.
- Make sure that your virus/spyware definitions are up-to-date and scan your computer often.
Internet fraud and threats don't only come from your computer. Social Engineering is a form of "phishing" in which a live person calls the victim posing as a system administrator or someone else of importance and persuades the victim to give the caller important information, like passwords, that will enable them to "help" the victim with his or her account. Dreyfus will never call you to ask for your personal information or passwords.
Also, when you call Dreyfus or any company you do business with, be sure to use a reputable phone number such as one obtained from your account statement.