If you read the headline “eat this super food and drop 25lbs in one month!” would you click on it?

Don’t feel bad, we’ve all fallen for clickbait before. Intrigued by the headline, you would most likely click on the link and read the article only to discover it’s a load of you know what. These catchy headlines are made to pique curiosity, lure in readers to drive traffic to their website, increase brand awareness, and even scam people by installing malicious malware and stealing personal information.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, their 2021 Internet Crime Report indicates that internet fraud continues to increase over the years and has reached 2,300+ average complaints daily, generating over $6.9 billion in losses.

Use Common Sense

Clickbait is often based on trending or breaking news that tempt people into clicking it. As humans, we base decisions off emotions first and logic after. Headlines often described using phrases and words such as “you’ll never believe,” “this is what happens if you,” “shocking,” “exclusive,” “guaranteed,” “save,” and many others look compelling and trigger us to proceed. Once clicked, the reader will be directed to a website that can allow cybercriminals to seize your account and steal personal data. Here are some tips on ways to stay educated and protected when it comes to clickbait:

  1. Don’t take the bait: Stay away from headlines that sound outlandish. If it seems over-the-top and obviously not true, there is a good chance it’s a scam. Cybercriminals know what intrigues readers and will design quizzes that go viral. Before clicking or passing off a link to a friend that tells us which Harry Potter character we are most like, remember that you are risking not only your personal data, but your friend’s as well.
  2. Hover over the link: Before clicking, hover over the link with your mouse to see its true destination. Don’t click on links that will take you to unfamiliar websites that could potentially put your information in the hands of a scammer.
  3. Protect your personal data: Never give away personal information or share passwords with any websites that request it. Personal information such as banking, social security numbers, etc. should always remain private unless it is asked from a trusted source.
  4. Trust no one: Always be on the defense! With hacking becoming so popular these days, it can be hard to trust an email, text, or post coming from who you may think is your friend. Scammers often use clickjacking as another tactic. They impersonate people that you know, encouraging you to clink on a link that results in revealing personal data and allowing them to take control of your device.
  5. Protect your devices: In this digital world, it’s hard to avoid the many scams that are out there. Protect your family and devices by installing Netsweeper’s filtering platforms to enable online scam protection at all times.

Changing our online habits and teaching our children to strengthen their digital skills is necessary to mitigate fraud risks. Encouraging critical thinking will help your family and yourself to combat clickbait. Understanding your online surrounding and subconsciously asking questions such as: Where will this link lead to? Can this site be trusted? What is this site asking me to do? Will help you avoid falling victims to these scams. If something looks suspicious, but you’re curious about the information in the headline, visit a trusted and reliable news source to verify the information.

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