Scammers are responsible for hundreds of thousands falling victim every year. Scammers are clever and ruthless.
To protect your identity and financial security, it is important to know how to avoid online scams. Here are a few simple tips to avoid becoming a victim.
Be wary of unsolicited emails
Many online scams, such as the Revolut scam, begin by sending an unsolicited message. Cybercriminals will often use email as a way to send links to illegitimate web pages or to download malware (malicious programs) in order to steal personal information such as login identification, credit card details, and passwords. They may also try to install rogue software on your device that can compromise your computer’s integrity and allow them steal valuable information.
Often, the scammers pretend to be someone you know or a trusted entity. They may claim to be your bank, the IRS or even IU administration and ask you to click on a link that directs you to a malicious website. They may create a fake pop-up or online ad that appears urgent and claims there is a computer problem. They offer tech support to fix it.
Scams can happen at any time, but are more common in the summer when people plan vacations. For example, a recent scam targeted Netflix users by impersonating the company and attempting to scare diehard fans into providing their personal information by threatening that their account will expire if they do not update their billing information.
Criminals can also target you via social media, by searching for keywords that indicate your absence, such as wedding photos or honeymoon pictures, and then contacting when they know you’re away. They will attempt to steal your credit or banking information and may even infiltrate through your home using a connected TV or other devices.
Never give personal information out to anyone via email or social networks. Scammers can use this information to steal your identity, and can make fraudulent purchases using your bank or credit card account, take out loans in your name or empty your accounts and personal belongings. It is best to only send direct messages to friends and family on social media. Avoid logging into financial accounts or sites with sensitive information or making purchases on public WiFi networks. You should also set up two-factor authentication on all your online accounts to prevent unauthorized access to your data.
Don’t click on links
Whether it’s email, text or social media, clicking on links is always a bit of a gamble. On the other end could be a malicious website, virus-filled download or inappropriate content. Cyber criminals constantly bombard the internet via phishing emails and SMS messages. They also post on social media to try to trick people into clicking links in order to steal their information or money.
It is best to not click on links that are not requested, even when they come from someone you know. This includes the links in emails and texts you receive on your smartphone, tablet or computer that aren’t from the person it appears to be from – it might have been their account that was hacked.
In a popular phishing scheme, criminals send an email or text message claiming that your bank account was hacked. They ask you to click on the link to access a site where you can enter your details to get your money back. They’ll also try to scare by making you feel like something urgent needs your attention, such as a notification of a parcel or an offer that seems too good to true (and probably is).
Scammers are constantly trying to find new ways of tricking you into clicking malicious links, such as fake apps on mobile phones. These often contain malware that takes control of your device and locks it, demanding payment before you can regain access to your personal data. It’s easy to protect yourself from these by being wary of downloadable apps and never clicking on any suspicious links in emails or social media.
Remember to use your own WiFi or cellular network to make purchases online or log in to your financial account. Public networks are prime places for cybercriminals lurking and intercepting your activities. Avoid using free public Wi Fi and only use websites that begin with “https”. We can help improve your password safety, smartphone security, and online security so that you don’t fall victim to scammers.
Don’t share your personal information
Scammers are always trying to steal your personal information. This is why you should never give out any details about yourself unless the company or person is authentic. They will often ask for a lot of personal information, including your PIN codes and passwords. This allows them to access your account. They may also request sensitive information, such as your name and address, in order to contact you or hack your account.
When scammers know your information, they can start sending you messages or even making calls to you and your family, which can lead to fraud and theft. If someone is trying to get your personal information, just hang up and don’t respond. This will indicate to the scammer that you are still online and encourage them contact you. If you have to give your information, do it over secure, encrypted channels like email or SMS.
Scammers can also try to get information by pretending to be an official organisation. They may pretend to call from a credit card company or government to tell you that there is an issue with your account, or to ask for your personal information. They can change the number on your caller ID so that it looks more convincing.
If you suspect a message or a call, you can report it on the official website in your country. This will allow the authorities to take action against the scammers, and stop them from targeting others. If you’ve been scammed, it’s also a good idea to change your passwords and use two-factor authentication on any accounts that require them.
Other common online scams include money transfer and fake check scams. These occur when people sell something online and then send the buyer more money than they agreed to. They trick the buyer to wire them the difference back, and in the process steal their personal information. To avoid these scams you should only sell your items on reputable websites and apps. You should also pay with a credit card whenever possible. Never send cash or checks.
Online purchases are not recommended
Online scams are a major concern for consumers, and they are only growing in number. If you don’t know how to protect yourself or follow basic safety measures, these criminals may steal your money, your personal information, and even your identity. The good news is, many of the most common swindles can be avoided by educating yourself.
Scamming techniques became more sophisticated with the advancement of technology and as more people began to go online. Internet scammers had access to a larger pool of potential targets and it was easier to contact them. Today, scammers use a wide variety of methods to take advantage of people, including fake websites, social media, email and even phone calls.
If you receive a text, email or phone call asking about personal details, such as your PIN code in full or passwords, it should raise a warning. Legitimate companies won’t ask you for such information. If you’re unsure, hang-up and call the company using the number on the back of your card or official documents.
When making purchases or logging into financial accounts, it is important to use a secure WiFi connection. It is also a good idea to use comprehensive security software, and to update it regularly.
Scammers may also use social media sites to create fake accounts. They can gain access to the friend list of a victim to trick them into logging into a fraudulent account or website. This is known as social engineering or phishing and can lead to the theft of sensitive information such as passwords, bank account details or even personal photos.
Scammers will also try and trick victims into buying products or services by pretending to represent their bank, their credit card company, or the government. These scams can involve sending false messages and emails to the victim that say they have a problem with their account and request they confirm personal details on a fake banking or online payment service website. They may also ask victims “money mules”, who transfer funds from one bank account to another, without the victim’s knowledge.