DeWine talks online scams

Bryan Cohen Jan. 27, 2012, 1:47am


COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned families in Ohio on Friday to avoid online scams and guard their personal information as part of Saturday's International Data Privacy Day.

DeWine gave multiple tips to Ohio consumers, including to avoid oversharing and to think twice before sharing information online such as date of birth, address or name. Even an online contact can be a scammer attempting to take your money.

"Protecting your personal information online helps keep you and your family safer from fraud," DeWine said. "My office is working to prosecute scammers, but it's also important to protect yourself. Take a few extra safeguards to keep your personal information out of the hands of others."

DeWine also warned consumers about a fake anti-virus scam that involves a pop-up that states, "Your computer has been infected. Click here to resolve this matter." When consumers click on the ad, the virus can hide their documents and other saved personal information.

The scam only allows the consumer to connect to the internet through the scammer's own website. The virus triggers a virus alert warning whenever consumers run an application and only stops when the consumers enter credit card information to pay for the anti-virus software provided by the scammer.

DeWine warned consumers to keep their passwords to themselves and reminded them that sharing passwords with family or friends can reduce account control. By changing passwords regularly and making them unique and complex, consumers are more likely to be able to prevent fraud. Passwords should not include a maiden name, birth date, Social Security number or any other numbers that can be used to identify you.

Security settings should be strengthened through every online account, including online banking, social networking and e-mail. Consumers should restrict access to any information they don't want to be available publicly.

Data should also be encrypted by securing home networks through wireless routers. By having a secured wireless network, citizens make it much less likely someone can access their internet or home computer. In addition, consumers should be careful where they click.

Due to the prevalence of hacking, even a message from a friend or family member can be a scam sent through a compromised account. If the e-mail only has a generic line such as "Check this out!" with a link or an attachment, it is best to be particularly cautious. Before clicking or opening the attachment, call the contact directly to verify the authenticity of the e-mail.

Consumers should use only trusted anti-virus software and update it regularly.

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