How do you know if an online business is legit or a scam? Many Internet users share their personal information online even though they should not be doing so, at least not on websites that should not be trusted. Information can be used against the user, especially if they happen to enter social security numbers, addresses, credit card numbers and other highly sensitive information.
Microsoft brought that online experience to the real world, by recreating two online scams in Manhattan. The first scam was a fake bank, called the Greater Offshore, that saw dozens of customers walk in on its first day of business. These customers gladly shared personal information including credit card numbers, SSNs, ATM pin numbers and samples for DNA tests with the (fake) bank clerk.
The second fake store was an inheritance store, created after the infamous Nigerian online scam which tries to lure people into the trap by making them believe they could get a lot of money easily by parting with just a bit.
Again New Yorkers parted willingly with their personal information. In the end, they were told that the store was created to prove a point, to avoid sharing information online with websites and services that are not trustworthy.
Web browsers, like Internet Explorer which was advertised in the end, aid Internet users by automatically blocking known threats and displaying warning messages.
But Internet browsers and other security software can only help in specific situations, the most powerful defense against online threats is, common sense.
Then again, who would have thought that Microsoft would have created a bank for a day?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.