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Safety & security

8 Google searches that put your privacy and security at risk

We’ve all known for years that Google and Facebook are tracking us, but that doesn’t mean we like it. In addition to Big Tech putting its nose in our digital habits, there are other things we have to worry about regarding security and privacy.

We also have to worry about hackers that view the internet as a digital goldmine. Every time you search the internet, you are putting yourself at risk. Tap or click here for a site that will show you if your online accounts have been part of a breach.

If you want to be on the defense the next time you’re looking for information, we’ve done the work for you. Here are eight Google searches that put your privacy and security at risk.

1. Tech support scams on the rise

One of the largest scams out there by hackers is tech support scams. This is something we’ve reported on often in the past and it continues to be one of the most popular online scams. Anytime you search for tech support online, you leave yourself vulnerable to ending up on malicious sites.

Pro tip: If you are looking for tech support, only call numbers directly offered to you by the company, typically found in the instructions in your user’s manual. To keep yourself informed, tap or click here for the top online tech support scams out there right now.

2. Avoid malicious apps

Hackers love Google, and they especially love when you search for an app to download. Why? Because they make copycat apps that appear exactly like the name-brand app you are looking to download.

Once you download a malicious app, criminals have access to your device and it often contains malware that does a lot of damage. It’s more common than you think, like these copycat apps that are hiding malware.

3. Free software isn’t always so free

Just like searching for apps can lead you to unsuspecting copycats that will put dangerous malware on your device, Googling free software is a bad idea. Firstly, hackers know the most common versions of free software available and will make spoofs to trick you into downloading theirs.

Secondly, downloading free software comes with its own risks. It comes with pop-ups, ads, and a lack of security. That lack of security can lead to viruses and other issues being downloaded onto your machine. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

4. Fake coupon codes are everywhere

Who doesn’t like to save money? Coupons are wonderful, but not when they lead you to click on dummy links set up by scammers. The best way to save money and keep yourself safe from online intruders by using reputable sources.

Stay smart and use a reputable coupon code side, like this one that will save you money every time you shop.

5. Don’t give away the bank by calling spoofed numbers

There’s nothing hackers want more than to access your bank account information. If you Google your bank phone number, they might get that information easily. Criminals put fake bank phone numbers online and can make spoofed websites look pretty believable.

How can you protect yourself? The next time you go into your bank, grab a business card and keep it handy so you always have the phone number. If you lose it, remember that the phone number to your bank is typically located on the backside of your debit card. Never do an online search for financial institution phone numbers!

6. Is that an official government website?

Don’t think there are fake government websites out there? Surprise, surprise, there are many, and they aren’t hard to come across. And not just U.S. government websites, international ones as well.

All it takes is a single character difference in a website title to lead you in the wrong direction. Actually, our online criminal friends design identical spoofing sites that are made to target the most commonly mistyped website addresses.

7. Fake social media sites are popping up

Sick of hearing the word spoofing yet? So are we! Unfortunately, spoofing has taken over the internet. This goes for government sites, your bank and even social media sites.

There are fake Facebook pages and other social media websites out there waiting for you to enter your private login credentials. Avoid any mix-ups and bookmark the page for easy access next time you want to get social.

8. Anything criminal

We’ve covered hackers, but your Google searches can also get you into trouble if you search for the wrong thing. Even if you are just curious, searching for anything illegal could put you in a pickle if the right people are looking at your searches.

Trust us, it happens. Just like you would never say bomb on an airplane, you shouldn’t Google for it either. People have been arrested for searching for things they shouldn’t have. That’s why it’s best to avoid criminal activity searches.

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