You need to watch what you are opening in your email inbox and when you visit websites.

The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana says if you don't watch what you open, it can leave you open to scammers, hackers and identity thieves.

You may end up opening malware that can take over your computer, and you may not even be aware that someone is spying on you.

Once you get malware on your phone or computer, your computer can crash, you can be monitored and someone can take control of your online activity along with your identity.

The BBB says there are several things you can do to keep your risk low:

  • Keep your security software updated.
  • Don't open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is. Opening attachments — even in emails that seem to be from friends or family — can install malware on your computer.
  • Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.
  • Minimize "drive-by" downloads. Use a pop-up blocker and don't click on any links within pop-ups.
  • Resist buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware.
  • Back up your data regularly.

So how do you know if you're phone or computer has been infected with malware?  Check for these signs on your devices:

  • slows down, crashes, or displays repeated error messages
  • won't shut down or restart
  • serves up a barrage of pop-ups

If you are noticing these signs, what can you do?  The BBB suggests that you take these steps right away:

  • Stop shopping, banking and doing other online activities that involve user names, passwords or other sensitive information.
  • Update your security software and then run it to scan your computer for viruses and spyware.
  • Delete anything it identifies as a problem. You may have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

If you think something you own has been effected with malware, you should report it the Federal Trade Commission by clicking here.

If you are looking for more information on protecting yourself, the BBB suggests checking with On Guard Online by clicking here.

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