Just wanted to post this quick tip to help prevent everyone from getting sucked into scams online. We’ve all heard about the Nigeria email scams roaming the internet, and the infamous Melissa virus, which spread through email as well, yet following this simple tip I’m about to show you will protect your personal information and your computer from getting a virus. If you feel you have gotten a virus previously, you can click here to check out my resource page, which has a link to free anti virus software as well as other helpful software that is free to use.

If you look at the image below you will see a cut-out from AOL’s top news section with the first link highlighted (I don’t know why my cursor is missing from the screen shot, but you can see that the URL is underlined)

Top New from AOL Since we know we are on AOL’s site, all the links should resemble a non suspicious looking URL containing AOL and some subpage from AOL, which you can see by simply holding your mouse cursor over the link in question.

Hold your mouse over this link and see what your browser shows as the location, it should be a link back to Easy Tech Talk’s homepage.

It’s amazing how simple this is and if everyone could get in the habit of doing this if they’re not sure of the link, then we would avoid Myspace hacks, email scams, viruses, and other nasty bad behavior on the internet.

When you hold your mouse over the link, its destination is shown at the bottom left of your browser, as seen in the picture below.

Browser URL location See how it say “news.aol.com”? That’s how you can tell it’s a legitimate link. If you see some crazy letters and numbers, or some other location other than AOL, then the link is bad and you shouldn’t click it, simple as that. The same goes for your email, you’ll be able to hold the cursor over the link in your email and see where the link leads to. If you for some reason don’t see the location in the browser, you can always right-click on it and select “Copy link location” (for firefox users) or “Copy shortcut” (for internet explorer users), then all you do is paste the link in the address bar at the top of your browser to see what it says, if the link looks good, the hit enter and you’re on your way. If you paste the link and it looks wrong, don’t go any further.

If you get an email saying your bank information is incorrect and you suspect it is a scam, go to the banks main site by typing it into your browser on your own, without clicking any links. Typing it in manually will guarantee that you are going to the site you want to. Each and every bank has a link to report fraud and you should forward the email to them, they will let you know if it is a scam and how to protect yourself.

That’s pretty much it, I hope this helps everyone out and if we can spread the word to everyone that doesn’t know this, everyone’s information will be safer and we’ll force these people running the scams to come up with other ways to try and get our info, but hopefully deter them enough to get out of the business and try something else.

[UPDATE 10-14-07 11:41pm PST] Click here to visit fakechecks.org, a website to help identify and avoid scams involving fake money orders or checks, which can be received online or through regular mail.