How to avoid phony hyperlinks

Scammers are tricky, and they’ll do whatever they can to convince you that one thing is actually another. One of the more popular ways for email spammers to get you to click on a link is to disguise it as something else.

Hyperlinks are a convenient way for people to access a website to learn more about material the link represents. Here is a hyperlink that represents the Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov. The FTC website offers valuable information consumers can use to protect themselves.

Did you click the link? If so, you’re lucky this isn’t a scammer’s website or your computer might now be infected with a virus.

To determine the actual destination of a link, hover your mouse over the link, but don’t click it. Some email systems and web browsers will display the actual destination of the link. Others may not. While you might be able to right click the link and look for other options that will help you identify the link’s true destination, your best bet is to leave it alone and move on.

Never click on a link unless you know exactly where it will take you. Just as in the example above, the link might take you to a place other than where you think it will. Even worse, the link might take you to a fake, but authentic-looking website designed to mimic the site you think you’re going to. If that happens, the scammer will have whatever information you type into that site, including your log in and other personal information.

If you want to access a website, type the address information manually into a browser. This will avoid sending your computer to a dark place you don’t want it to go. You can bookmark the real site and access the bookmark later on so you don’t have to type the full address every time.

Hyperlinks can be a dangerous way to access information on the Internet. Always make absolutely sure that what you see is what you get when encountering any link that promises to take you to a desired location. The protection of your personal information may depend on it.

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