How to Spot an Online Scam
Online scams are on the increase. When you stop to consider how many online fraud attempts there were last year compared to this year, attempts are up more than 25% in the first four months of each year. So, what can you do to spot an online scam?
Seniors Getting Targeted for Scams
According to AARP, seniors are more and more subject to online scams. Yes, I know – everyone has the potential for being scammed. But it seems like the older generation is frequently getting taken by fraudulent activity.
Is there a way to spot these online scams? Yes, indeed. To begin with, let’s delve into three dead giveaways for how to spot an online scam.
Don’t Click on the Unknown
Say you get an email that you are not expecting. It sounds exciting, and there is a link that you can click on to get more information (supposedly). Be careful!
Fraudulent links can show up in an email, a hijacked messaging account of one of your friends, a WhatsApp message, or even an SMS. The goal of a hacker? That scrupulous individual wants you to click on that link, so you go to a malicious website. If you do that, they have you. You are at risk of having malware downloaded onto your device. Another trick they try is to urge you to reveal your login credentials on a phony website that looks like the real thing.
It stands to reason that the best way to combat these scams is don’t; refrain from clicking. Do not click on a link you weren’t expecting. If you get an email stating your bank account is going to be frozen, or your PayPal email account suddenly needs to be validated, stop. Think about it; don’t click. Even if you have researched that the email address and the link lead to the real thing, protect yourself and make a habit of not clicking. Instead, enter the website address yourself by typing it out in the address bar. Don’t search for it—rather, type it out yourself.
If It Sounds Urgent – Maybe, It’s Not
A well-known scam is for someone to hijack a person’s Facebook account. Once in possession of it, the individual will then contact all her friends via the hijacked account. So often, the scammer will claim it’s an emergency, saying your friend is in jeopardy. A tactic to use is they will say something like, “I’m in London. I’ve been robbed, and I have no money.”
In most instances, and if you are alert, you usually know this is a scam and can see where it’s headed. But in the case of our sample, it can be much harder to ignore that urgency. PCWorld uses the thought process of, “Of course, you want to help your friend: “Oh my goodness! A foreign country where they might end up on the street? I need to help.”
Because an “emergency” is in play, scammers are banking on the likelihood you might be careless and not look too closely at the details and instead take action. Easy; be careful. You must resist the urge to act immediately. If your friend is in dire straits, you can still ask to talk to your friend on the phone or verify with someone else over the phone that she is where they claim to be. The key is to speak to another human being whose voice you can recognize because pretending to be someone else via a text chat is way too easy.
You can use the same general principle when taking immediate action to “unfreeze” your account. First, a bank or credit card company is more likely to call you or send a letter about dramatic action versus dropping you a note in Gmail. You can always contact your bank to see if it is legitimate or not by using the same email addresses, URLs, or phone numbers that you always use.
If It’s Too Good to Be True
You probably have been warned many times. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is bogus. Use your common sense here when receiving offers that don’t jibe.
Be cautious, almost to the point of being suspicious, when you get online sale offers and you have never heard of the website. Step back and do some research. Good resources to check to see what other people are saying about the company are consumer sites like Trustpilot, Sitejabber, and the Better Business Bureau. Follow your gut instinct. If there are limited reviews, poor marks, or no information at all, don’t use them.
Be safer online and learn how to spot an online scam. Follow the tips above, and this will help protect you from fraudulent activity. Two more pieces of advice I’ll share with you here. First, read all you can learn about scams, spam, hacking, and online attacks against your privacy. Knowledge is power. We will help you all we can, so let us know if you have any questions or issues and need tech advice. We are here for you.
Second, always, always be alert. If you don’t trust a link, don’t click on it.
Categorised in: Scams
This post was written by Megabite