Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) would like to caution you to take a second look before clicking on a link from an email, text, comment or social media post. In our increasing technological society we are constantly told to click links to visit websites or view the latest videos. Links are a convenient way to quickly and conveniently share information from legitimate sources; however, they can also be a quick and convenient way to spread malware and viruses or misdirect users to a fake website to steal personal information.
Many of us receive links in emails, texts and posts on social media. Much of this we recognize as spam however spam is becoming more sophisticated and innovative making it harder to detect. Social media profiles can be hacked and used to spread malicious links to unsuspecting friends who think they are receiving a video or website link from a friend. From time to time we receive calls from consumers who have received a convincing email or text with a link. The caller is aware of the warning signs of spam but what they received is so well crafted that the caller is unsure. Part of what is so convincing to the caller is the link included looks like it is directing them to a well-known and reputable website.
Unfortunately where the link says it goes and where it will actually take you are not necessarily the same place. Any typed text can be hyper-linked to a web address so simply typing what looks like a reputable website and hyperlinking it to a malicious website loaded with malware is not at all unusual. One way to spot this is to place your cursor over the link without clicking and look at the bottom corners of your browser screen. Usually your browser will show you the real hyperlink which often will not be the reputable website you were hoping for. Many sites and blogs allow comments and those comments often contain links. If you see a fake link there are usually ways to report spam to the site itself. While many sites try to protect their users by removing spam there are no guarantees that a link in a comment is safe.
The use of smartphones means we often view texts, emails and posts without a traditional browser and cursor. If you do not have a way of viewing the hyperlink it is best not to use the link. If you receive a text or email from someone you don’t know it is best not to open it in the first place. Remember your bank, the government or the sweepstakes prize department should have a better way of reaching you than a random email or text sent to hundreds of other people. Also keeping in touch with your friends beyond social media can help you recognize if their social media pages have been hacked. If they are suddenly sending you content out of character, call them and see if they have been hacked.
Never enter personal or banking information into a site that you accessed by a link. Any site that requires that kind of information should be accessible by going to the site and should have security measures including password protection. If you come across a story online that you want to read, go to the original source on your own instead of using a link. Avoiding malicious links helps to protect your online profiles, your electronic devices and your identity. For more information you can trust, checkout bbb.org/Evansville.