Of course, as a security-conscious website owner, you’re probably already using a VPN to protect your privacymanaging application permissions for protect your phone, ensuring your browser blocks third-party trackers, and enforcing strong passwords for all your databases and user accounts. But personal security goes far beyond protecting your cell phones, computers and websites.
In today’s article, we’ll raise awareness of what scams are, why you should care, and how to protect yourself from scammers.
So what is a scam?
The term scam is widely used to describe a fraudulent scheme or business that aims to extort money or property from unsuspecting individuals.
Online scams have rapidly increased to target unsuspecting victims with the exponential growth of the Internet. And while webmasters may be aware of online scams that can harm their websites, such as Phishing, the truth is that scams and misinformation target a wide range of users.
Scams can come in a wide range of formats, shapes and sizes, including:
- SMS scams
- Tech Support Scams
- Misleading pop-ups
- Donation scams
- cat fishing
- cold calls
- Online surveys
- Employment scams
All of these different types of scams share a common element: they involve stealing money, property, or sensitive information from a victim.
Additionally, targets can range from seniors to busy professionals and even tech-savvy millennials.
Whether they arrive in the form of an email, text, phone call or in person, scams can pose a significant threat to a company’s finances, personal information or even credit rating. a person.
You can learn more about all the different types of scams from our latest guide to how to protect yourself against scams.
Why you should care about scams
Here are some top reasons why you should care about getting scammed.
Loss of personal information
One of the most obvious reasons to avoid getting scammed is to protect your privacy and personal information.
For example, in recent years, scammers have used unsolicited cold calls to extract sensitive information from prospects. They may pretend to be the IRS asking for your social security number or a bank trying to verify contact information to offer a “refund”.
Either way, it’s important to verify the legitimacy of any caller before providing your personal information. If in doubt, hang up.
Waste of money
We work hard for our money, don’t we? A vast majority of scams attempt to cheat people with their hard-earned money, making this another solid reason why you should be concerned about getting scammed.
For example, catfishing – where scammers fabricate a fake relationship with a victim in order to get money or resources from them. Like most social engineering attacks, one or more malicious actors may be involved to create a compelling storyline that tricks the victim into paying money or other valuables.
Do your due diligence and, if possible, check the background of new acquaintances, especially if they are asking for favors or money for whatever reason they show up.
Sextortion scams exploit basic human laws of attraction to manipulate and blackmail victims. Scammers pretending to be attractive women looking for a new friendship send friend requests in the hope of initiating a steamy online “adventure”.
If the friend request is accepted and a line of communication is established, the bad actor will attempt to seduce a victim into exchanging explicit texts, photos, video or audio calls while recording everything for use. later. Any incriminating evidence will be gathered and the scammer will then demand a ransom, threatening to contact the victim’s spouse or family if a ransom is not paid.
How to avoid getting scammed
We have covered some important points about scams and their characteristics, but the most important thing is how to avoid getting scammed in the first place.
Scammers are constantly looking for new ways to exploit their victims, but there are a few key steps you can take to protect yourself.
Examine the content carefully
Received a text or email asking you to send money, fill out an online form, provide credentials or other personal information? Check the content carefully to verify the source. If it even looks slightly unusual or there are glaring spelling mistakes, ignore the message and mark it as spam. Even just researching information about what you received can help you determine whether it is legitimate or not.
Check URLs and avoid unexpected links
The popularity of link shortening services has definitely helped scammers. Many scams use link-shortening services to trick unsuspecting victims into navigating to their landing pages. Check the URLs and don’t click on anything that looks suspicious.
If you end up following a URL to a strange landing page, make sure the link in your browser matches the content and company being displayed. If the page asks for too much information or there is conflicting information, that’s a huge red flag.
Don’t rely on padlocks or green SSL symbols
Scammers use all kinds of fake credibility indicators to trick people into providing credentials, payment details, or other sensitive information. They can impersonate a reputable brand or even exploit technology like SSL to lure victims into a false sense of security.
Just because there’s a green SSL padlock on the page doesn’t mean the website is safe to use or trustworthy.
Verify information and beware of unexpected interactions
Did you receive an email saying that your bank is asking you to log into your account to issue a refund? Got a text from the IRS saying that if you don’t provide your social security number, they will force you to pay a $10,000 penalty? Received a voicemail with instructions on how to pay a fee to win a contest? All of these scenarios are major red flags.
If you receive an unsolicited email or text message from a service provider you usually do business with, contact the service provider directly and confirm if the request is valid.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Scammers exploit human greed and insecurity and intentionally target desperate people looking to earn a few extra bucks. The reality is that if you get an unsolicited email, phone call, or offer from someone in person that seems too good to be true, chances are it’s a scam. .
Avoid reacting to urgent messages
A false sense of urgency is used to pressure victims into making quick decisions without applying their critical thinking skills. Avoid clicking an email threatening to close your account or the immediate loss of an important service, tracking a package you know nothing about, or promising quick money.
Talk with your family and friends
You can help protect your family and friends by educating them about the most common types of scams.
For example, tell them how to spot phishing campaigns, understand the most common scams circulating by email or text message, and teach them how to apply updates to cellphones or security software to help mitigate risk – that way, if an attachment or link is accidentally clicked, their devices and software can help protect them.