We often talk about the importance of security, both real world and digital. Because technology and awareness is always evolving, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with what is acceptable or even true when it comes to security. Scammers are always coming up with new ideas to try and fool you, so it’s important to stay alert. Luckily most scams follow the same basic patterns, so they are less likely to fool you if you can spot some of the usual signs. Very few still fall for the classic email from a Nigerian price offering you millions if you just send him a few thousand to release the money, so scammers have had to improve their techniques and develop more refined scams. In part 1 of this series we will be looking at some of the most common digital scams and what they involve.
Computer Virus Scams
Someone calls you out of the blue and tells you that your computer has a virus. They give you directions for where to look on your computer for confirmation of the virus. Apparently there is one, and they tell you to download a piece of software and sign up for their 6 or 12-month service, which is designed to keep your computer safe. In reality there is no service, you have lost your money and your computer is likely to be infected with malware. If you receive one of these calls don’t respond or give them any information, just hang up.
Online Trading Scams
You see an absolute must have bargain online with a price just too good to miss. It has probably been advertised to you via popups or display advertising. You buy the product and wait, but it is nowhere to be seen. The website was fake and you handed over your money with no chance or getting it back, or worse signed up for a deal with hidden conditions. It’s surprisingly easy to set up a real-looking website, and often scammers will use names close to trusted, real world brands in order to draw you in. They may even advertise on Google or on social media to draw you in further and convince you that they are genuine. Before buying online, make sure you do your homework and always pay by credit card rather than direct bank transfer. If you are selling an item and receive a larger payment than necessary, be wary. This is called an upfront payment scam, and often the buyer will ask for a refund while actually reversing the transaction on their end as well, leaving you with minus funds.
Banking & Phishing Scams
You receive a genuine looking email asking you to update your account details with your bank. Because it looks real you type in your PIN number and password. You have just unwittingly given scammers access to your money and your identity. They will take both. Luckily these are easy to avoid, as your genuine bank will never ask you to reveal such information. If you follow a link in an email from your bank that asks you to re-enter all of your card details and personal information, don’t. Instead call your bank and ask if this is genuine or not. They will quickly be able to tell you if it is a scam.
You receive an email from a good friend or colleague inviting you to click on an interesting link. The link may take you to a fake website or just appear dead. The link was in actual fact malware, allowing scammers access to your information, the ability to install keystroke loggers to gain personal information or to just destroy your data. Ensure your anti-virus and spyware software is all up to date and never click on links in emails unless you are absolutely certain of their authenticity.
Online Dating Scams
You meet someone online who seems really interested in getting to know you. They say all of the right things and tick all of the boxes, spending time building up a relationship with you. So when they say they are having financial problems, you feel you can trust them and want to help. So you send them the money they need. Very quickly your new love disappears with your money never to be seen or heard from again.
Of course there are many variations on these digital scams, but for the most part the formula they follow is the same. To avoid becoming a victim, be vigilant when online and only give out your details to trusted sources. For more information on protecting yourself against scams and identity theft, or enquire about using a secure shredding service for your home or business, get in touch today for your free consultation. Keep an eye out for part 2 of our series, which will expose some of the most common real world scams out there at the moment.