A fraud expert has warned of an online trap that could expose you to scammers.
Speaking to The Sun, James Walker, CEO of UK scam-fighting firm Rightly, highlighted a sneaky trick used by websites that could funnel your data into the wrong hands.
These are the checkbox consent forms that many websites present to you on your first visit.
Under EU regulations, sites must ask if they can share the data they collect about you with third parties, such as marketing companies.
However, some websites don’t follow the rules, potentially exposing you to scammers.
Under the UK version of the GDPR – the EU’s general data protection laws – visitors to a website must choose to have their data tracked.
But many websites automatically register visitors as having opted in, unless they uncheck a box on the consent form.
Many website visitors simply click accept on the form the moment it appears in order to rush back to what they came for.
However, it can put your data at risk, James said — and risk ending up in the hands of scammers.
“We should minimize the amount of data we transmit,” he told The Sun. “Be aware of sites that ask you to unsubscribe rather than participate.
“We have always believed that GDPR meant that you had to tick a box to consent to the sharing of your data.
“But a lot of companies are breaking the law.
“They made sure that if you don’t check the box, your data is shared. It’s the wrong way to do it.
Online scams remain a hugely popular way to generate money among criminal gangs, with £1.3billion stolen by crooks last year.
They most commonly take the form of phishing scams in which an attacker impersonates a bank or social media platform in an effort to get their hands on your passwords, email address, or passwords. other sensitive information.
Phishing scams are more effective if senders know personal information, such as a password or your date of birth.
This makes data gathered by some websites a useful tool for cyber crooks hoping to trick you out of your money.
Consenting to the provision of your data to third parties can improve your web experience by making the advertisements you see more personal.
However, the data you provide could potentially fall into the wrong hands.
Indeed, although your data is intended to be shared with marketing companies, it sometimes ends up on the dark web.
James said: “When you choose to share your data with these websites, you don’t know where it goes, how it’s shared or how it’s going to be used.
“It can end up with what are called data brokers, who sell your data to hundreds of organizations if they can. Some of them might just be scammers. »
He urged netizens to opt out of third-party tracking where possible to protect their data.
The British are more than ever victims of online scams. Their popularity among scammers surged during the covid-19 lockdowns.
Research published by Rightly on Tuesday found that almost half of Britons have been the victim of or approached an online scam.
The survey of 2,000 adults across the UK found that more than a third (37%) of these people lost money as a result.
A lack of awareness appears to be to blame, with Brits failing to take basic security measures, leaving them exposed to scams.
For example, less than a third of respondents regularly change their password, while only 45% are wary of free Wi-Fi locations in hotels and airports – a common hunting ground for scammers.
James said online scams are a huge problem that isn’t talked about enough.
“It’s this hidden crime that victims are too embarrassed to talk about,” he said. “Therefore, everyone gets away with it. »
“We talk about the fact that there are scams, but nobody sees the size and the damage that this causes to individuals. »
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