How to Avoid Increasing Online Scams and Frauds

In the first half of 2022, 53.35 million US citizens were affected by cyber crimes. 1 in 5 internet users’ identity is exposed through emails. The statistics say it all. 

The internet offers us countless opportunities to connect to people globally, but we are also at risk of being scammed, which compromises our identity, security, and finances.

Let’s learn how to avoid increasing online scams and frauds.

5 Obvious Signs to Identify a Scam

There are some signs which imply almost all types of scams. These signs make you believe in the scammer’s identity, intent, and actions, which later become a scam.

Using Names of Renowned Organizations

It is a common practice for scammers to use names of organizations you might have heard of. They claim to be the members, organizers, or persons in charge of any fraudulent offers. They use contact numbers or email addresses that look legitimate but are tampered with by software.

Create Urgency or Define a Problem

The common practice of scammers is that they want you to act fast without thinking. Therefore, they create urgency by offering limited-time offers, extra discounts, and instant follow-ups. 

One other way is that they would ask you to act immediately as you are somehow in trouble with any intelligence agency and government organizations. 

Poorly Written Messages and Accent on Calls

Scammers usually target a large audience, including you. That is why they generate texts, emails, or phone calls for many people. The thing they typically need is more professional communication. So, if you find grammatical errors, poor formatting, or ambiguous tone, that’s a red alert!

Instant Payment Requests

Upfront payments, fees, or requests for money through unconventional methods, such as gift cards or cryptocurrency, are what scammers need. You might be under a scam if they ask you to pay quickly.

Personal Information

Legitimate people never request sensitive information like Social Security numbers, passwords, or credit card details via email or unsolicited messages. Scammers usually ask for this information to trick you into financial deceptions.

9 Tips to Avoid Increasing Online Scams and Frauds

To protect yourself from online scams, you must be vigilant and intelligent. Here are some critical steps to keep in mind:

Exercise Caution with Personal Information 

Be cautious when dealing with requests for your personal information or financial details. Avoid sharing money or sensitive data with unfamiliar or untrustworthy individuals. 

Stick to well-known and secure payment methods. Additionally, refrain from participating in money transfers for others, as it may involve illegal activities such as money laundering.

Stay Alert to Phishing Scams 

Phishing is most prevalent in online scams. Avoid interacting with suspicious emails or text messages. 

Image Description: Phishing email example

Do not click links or open attachments in these messages, and never respond to unsolicited communications requesting personal or financial information.

Secure Your Devices 

Safeguard your mobile devices and computers by setting up strong passwords and refraining from granting access to unauthorized individuals, even remotely. Ensure your WiFi network is password-protected, and avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots for online banking.

Utilize Robust Passwords 

Opt for solid passwords that are difficult to guess. Create combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. 

Changing passwords regularly is advisable, and employing a password manager can streamline the process.

Review Social Media Privacy Settings

If you’re active on social networking sites, exercise caution when connecting. Familiarize yourself with privacy and security settings to maintain a safe online presence. If you encounter suspicious activities, report and secure your account.

Beware of Fake Tech Support Calls

If someone claims to be from a reputable company and creates a problem that needs remote access to your computer, be cautious. 

Such calls often have malicious intentions to install malware and compromise your data. Hang up immediately.

Avoid Streaming from Unverified Websites 

Streaming content from unfamiliar and potentially untrustworthy websites carries a significant risk of malware exposure. Illegitimate sources may offer free content to lure visitors. 

Stick to reputable sites for streaming to minimize these risks.

Resist Pressure for Immediate Action 

Genuine businesses allow you the time to make informed decisions. Be wary of anyone pressuring you to make payments or divulge personal information hastily. Scammers often employ such pressure tactics.

Use First Line of Defense

Online scams and frauds are common for each one of us. To keep your personal information hidden, it is essential to be anonymous online. Reliable VPNs can help you stay secure by encrypting all your activities through advanced protocols such as L2TP and PPTP. 

Common Online Scams – Know to Protect Yourself 

There are some online scams you must know about. We have written the call to action for each one of them:

Avoiding Job Offer Scams

With many job networking sites operating, the probability of getting exposed to such attacks has increased. If you have decided to take the job, do not pay anything in return. 

If you have shared your profile, wait to give financial details until and unless the work is started and you are sure about the organization’s credibility.

Recognize Dating Scams

Preventing romance scams requires thoroughly examining any online relationship that appears to progress too soon. 

It’s essential to exercise caution and only provide financial assistance to individuals if you’ve also established an offline connection with them. 

When arranging an in-person meeting with someone you’ve met online, it’s prudent to inform trusted people, like any friend or family member, about your plans and whereabouts to ensure your safety.

Be Mindful of Social Media Scams

It’s essential to exercise caution and refrain from clicking on links or opening attachments in messages you didn’t know about.

Additionally, exercise prudence when confronted with shortened URLs that conceal the true destination of a webpage. 

Social media scams are prevalent on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. While they might genuinely lead you to the intended site, there’s always the risk that they could redirect you to a place that installs malicious software.

Know about Vishing Attempts

Vishing is voice phishing. You might receive a robocall that leads to financial fraud.

When confronted with a suspected robocall, the most prudent action is not to answer your phone. 

However, since it can be challenging to distinguish if you pick up and realize it’s a robocall, the best course of action is to hang up promptly. 

It’s crucial to avoid following any instructions provided by the automated voice, like the “press 1 to talk to a live agent” prompts.

Beware of Online Shopping Scams

Be cautious when encountering products advertised at unbelievably low prices, as this often serves as a clear warning signal. Another red flag is when the seller insists on immediate payment or requests electronic funds transfer or wire services. 

They may even ask you to purchase vouchers upfront to access a seemingly incredible deal or giveaway. When exploring websites, pay close attention to the domain name. 

Ensure that any site prompting you for personal information starts with “https://” instead of “http://,” with the “s” indicating a secure connection. Secure websites will have a padlock icon in the address bar, signifying the presence of an SSL certificate.

3 Most Emerging Online Threats Disrupting Your Security

With increasing financial vectors, the threat area has also widened. Scammers are everywhere, and they find unique ways to target you.

Cryptocurrency Scams

There has been a surge in the popularity of cryptocurrency scams. The reason is that people are eager to earn more and know that the market is volatile. Scammers hit this point and lures offer to trick them. Here are some facts to know:

Phishing and Impersonation

Scammers create fake cryptocurrency websites and impersonate legitimate platforms to trick you into revealing sensitive information, such as login credentials to digital wallets. 

As a precaution, always double-check the website’s URL, look for secure connections (https://), and verify the legitimacy of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Ponzi Schemes and High-Yield Investments

Investing in an unknown project that looks too good and can not be true might doom your funds. Some scammers promise high returns on investments in cryptocurrency projects that don’t exist or are fraudulent. 

Pump-and-Dump Schemes 

In these schemes, fraudsters artificially inflate the price of a cryptocurrency through misleading information or hype, only to sell off their assets at a profit, leaving unsuspecting investors with significant losses. Research thoroughly before investing in any cryptocurrency.

Social Engineering

Scammers may use social engineering tactics to access your cryptocurrency wallet or funds. They may pose as friends, family, or support personnel to manipulate you into revealing sensitive information. Keep your details private from everyone.

DeepFakes and Their Potential for Fraud

Deep Fakes are a growing concern in cybersecurity and fraud. These are AI-generated media, often manipulated videos or audio recordings that appear to feature real individuals saying or doing things they never did. 

You must always be sure about the trustworthiness of the platform you invest in, as leakages might lead to irreversible identity loss or financial loss.

Challenges of the Metaverse

People create their personas in the digital world. While interacting with fellow players, it is essential to keep your name, location, and other sensitive information private. 

Image Description: Ledger Stealing Bitcoin

Virtual currencies in the metaverse have actual values. People might scam you for real estate or in-game items. You must be cautious of data breaches, theft of virtual assets, and other security issues. 

Feeling Safe Now?

We will always be under cyber threats and fraud. The idea is to be consistent regarding digital safety. Scams and frauds come with human nature, and we can only deal with them efficiently. 

Train your family about the risks they have on various platforms. Keep your passwords unguessable, update your software, and, most of all, be vigilant at all times!

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