People want your time and money and they are willing to do anything they can to get it, even give you so called free stuff.
But with some simple steps you can protect yourself and lower the risk of anything bad happening.
The first step is to not rush in to anything, take a moment and way up what the site or e-mail is offering you, if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is, do some research, is there a forum, Google them and see if anyone is complain about them (The Google thing can be a little hard as chances are there is someone that has beef with everything at some point, but see if there is a chorus or people saying the same thing).
Try to keep to the main stream sites and be wary of the smaller sites, this is not to say not to use them as you can come across some great finds on the internet from the lesser known sites but be mindful of what information you are giving them. just like walking in the woods the road less traveled can be more fun but it can also be more dangerous too.
The next step is to add some Armor to you computer for added protection while you surf the internet and take the road less traveled.
There is a host of free software to help protect yourself even if your budget is low to none existent, it does not mean you should go without.
We will take a quick look at some of the free anti viruses that are on offer, probably the most important bit of software you can have and a must for any internet traveler.
Microsoft Security Essentials is a good one to start with as its made by Microsoft themselves and is totally free, no panhandling here; AV-Test score its protection as 1.5 out of 6 which is one of the lowest in AV-Tests ranking but when you look at the numbers in the report, it scores a 78% detection rate on 0 day attacks which is ok but where it really wins is the usability; its the less intrusive.
I have used this one and I like it, its well laid out and does what it says, no mountain of options to go over to get it running right.
Avast: Free is another free AV, I have not used this one but other engineers I work with do and they recommend it, so I have included it. It scores a lot better on the AV-Test website then MSE, getting a 4.5 out of 6 on the protection rating with a 96% detection rate of 0 day attacks.
But its let down on its usability score; adds more over heads then the others but has less false detection then AVG
AVG: Anti-Virus Free Edition is the last in the list of recommended anti viruses for your computer and it is the best all rounder scoring well on the protection with 5.0 out of 6.0 and the lowest over head on your system; its only drawback is its false detection which is the highest out of the free one's I have listed.
But this could be due to the way the engine detects for viruses and I can forgive it for this as some paid versions have a habit of doing this as well.
The numbers says I should recommend AVG, its the best for gamer's and for the average user but sometimes numbers do not mean its the best and AVG does not sit well with me.
I have used AVG and have suggested it a lot a few years back but I have seen the newer visions go wrong so many times that I have lost confidence in it, so if you're a gamer and your looking for a free anti virus, I would go with Microsoft as I have not seen it go wrong and its the second best for over head and it scored a 0 on the false detection test with AV-Test.
I would suggest Avast for the everyday user or the paranoid gamer as its got the best detection out of the two.
This does not mean I am going to give up on AVG, I used to like it a lot so I am going to keep my eye on it and test it every now and then and if my opinion changes I will post about it.