- Never respond to an email, text or pop-up message that asks for your financial information.
- Don't click on any of the links in such messages.
- Don't copy and paste the URL into your browser either. You might get redirected to the scammer's site without your knowledge.
- If in doubt, type the URL directly into your browser window or, better yet, contact your financial institution by phone.
- Don't call the phone number in the message. Only use the numbers that your financial institution has given you.
- Read the privacy policies of the companies you deal with to see how they handle and protect your personal information. What your banks say they will never ask you to do and what the scammers ask you to do will be quite different.
Know How to Ward Off Bots and Zombies
Bots and zombies also pose a threat. These scams begin with spammers searching the Internet for unprotected computers. If they find one, they can take control of that machine and use it to anonymously send spam and create a robot network, or "botnet." Another name for this is "zombie army." A botnet consists of hundreds or thousands of hijacked computers sending millions of messages.
If your computer isn't protected by security software, then it's an easy target. This allows spammers to install malware onto your machine. Sometimes, even visiting an infected site can trigger a drive by download, which will install malware on your computer and turn it into a bot. Email is a target, too-if you click on an attachment from someone you don't know, it could contain malicious code.
Malicious code can also be contained in an image. An example of this kind of infection is the Skype virus, which has been spreading like wildfire as of late. You'll see a popup and an active window from a Skype contact with the message "lol is this your new profile pic? link here." (Similar attack have spread via Facebook chats and Twitter direct messages in the last several months as well.)