Anyone who uses the internet for day-to-day activities is no stranger to online criminals and the dangers they pose to the financial wellbeing of the general populace.
Online scams are so rampant nowadays that either you or someone you know of would have been victims or almost victims of these nefarious schemes.
Cyber thieves use different tactics to access people’s vital information, especially financial details such as bank details, card information, pins, and passwords.
Any stolen information can be used in various nefarious ways, leading to losses ranging from a few hundred to millions of dollars.
Failure to take the necessary steps to safeguard yourself and your business can have dire consequences.
It can take a long time to recover from the effects of identity theft, so it is advisable to invest in identity theft protection services.
An effective way to prevent falling victim to online scams is to keep aware of all the common methods that online criminals use and take precautions to forestall these events before they happen.
Below are some of the most common online scams and how to avoid them.
Fake E-Commerce Stores
Have you ever come across a juicy offer promising a luxury item at rock-bottom prices while scrolling through your social media timeline?
While some of these offerings can be real, a greater percentage of them are the bait that draws people into fake websites and stores.
These sites are usually cloned off of reputable stores in an attempt to look legitimate and trustworthy. Victims either receive different items from what they ordered or receive nothing at all.
You can easily identify these fake stores by their lack of a secured connection depicted by ‘HTTP’ instead of ‘HTTPS’ and the absence of a padlock icon on the address bar.
Before shopping at any e-commerce store, ensure that the store is real by searching for reviews about their service.
Go through the brand’s original store to find out if they offer discounts or running sales, thereby justifying any low-price offers.
Dating and Romance Scams
Human nature to crave a connection with another person has made many people susceptible to defrauding their hard-earned money.
Fraudsters lurk on dating apps and websites, usually using false names and pictures, looking for people who would fall victim to their sweet words and fake assurances.
Judging by The Tinder Swindler, a fraudster who pretended to be a billionaire and heir to a diamond empire to defraud countless women, many people have made dating scams their primary source of livelihood.
When a person you have never seen and have been talking to for a short while asks you for money, no matter how small, it is usually an indication that that person most likely wants to scam you.
Look out for bogus profile descriptions and conduct adequate research about the person to whom you are speaking.
Use reverse-search for images to avoid being catfished – a situation whereby an individual uses another person’s pictures or identity.
Every day, we hear about one person or the other who beat poverty and became rich, seemingly by doing next to nothing or taking advantage of a loophole that guarantees instant success.
With these stories, people are lured into believing that they can get rich quickly and with little to no effort.
All they need to do is get into a program or invest in a startup that will make them millionaires within a few short weeks.
If you come across anyone promising a high return on investment after a short time, it is almost sure that you just encountered a scammer.
Any company that cannot produce a verifiable license and isn’t registered with necessary organizations is one you should avoid.
Go through their websites, call their numbers, and, if possible, visit their physical locations before you part with your money.
Phishing is a popular scam tactic that involves cloning a real business or organization, thereby fooling people into clicking hazardous links and attachments.
It can be done through emails, text messages, and direct messages via social media platforms. The perpetrators pretend to be a close friend, relative, charity organization, or a company you patronize.
The links and attachments they send are disguised-malware which infects your computer when you click on them.
Avoid clicking a link directly from a message or email, regardless of your relationship with the supposed sender.
If a message looks suspicious, such as grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, or vague explanations, ignore or delete it.
Confirm all discounts and promotions sent through newsletters from the store’s website. Do not provide your usernames, passwords, or payment information to anyone claiming to represent a reputable company or organization; contact them to verify all claims using their real contact information.
Identity theft is a serious occurrence that can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s financial status.
It is when someone else uses your name, home address, email, social security number, health insurance details, bank details, and credit card information.
Your identity can be stolen through malware contracted through phishing, cloned payment pages and forms, and hacking.
These protection services monitor your credit, detect unusual activities from your bank account, secure your network and alert you to situations where someone gathers data of yours without consent.
Do not reveal your vital information to just anyone, and ensure to install up-to-date malware defences on all your devices.
If possible, always use payment gateways such as PayPal, credit cards, or virtual prepaid cards when making online payments.
Take all precautions to avoid falling victim to online scams. Stay up-to-date about new theft schemes and read up on basics of detecting identity theft.
Always be alert and scrutinize every email and message thoroughly before clicking anything. Get rid of any false sense of security that you can not be scammed.
Finally, learn not to be driven by greed. If something looks too good to be true, it most likely isn’t true.