Internet scams are like cockroaches: they’re hard to catch, though they are everywhere on the web. If you’re like most people, chances are that you’ve probably been scammed before or have been a victim of an attempted scam.
Almost everyone uses the internet to socialize, shop, do business, or pretty much everything. Additionally, tech firms and innovators continuously develop new and advanced ways to leverage the internet’s capabilities. As new technologies like artificial intelligence and chatbots emerge, scammers are also working extra hard to refine their techniques.
In an age where knowledge is power, knowing about common online scams puts you ahead of the pack. This blog post explores how to spot and avoid these new-age frauds.
- Research Sellers/Service Providers Thoroughly
The internet is crawling with many scammers posing as sellers and service providers. Before purchasing something online, be sure to go through reviews and carry out extensive seller research. Doing so will help you spot potential red flags and avoid falling for a con.
It’s a better decision, however, to buy goods from well-known and reputable marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Etsy.
- Don’t Open Unsolicited Emails
If you receive an email prompting you to click any link, ensure to hover over it and check its legitimacy. Fraudsters use spoofing tricks where they pose as reputable brands and attempt to lure people into clicking their malicious links. They often use intimidating language to get people to act fast.
Once you click on a link, they can access and steal your account credentials. A giveaway sign of a malicious email is glaring grammatical mistakes and bold promises.
To understand who such emails are coming from, use Nuwber. This people search website provides information about individuals, including their professional details, social media profiles, criminal records, and more.
- Install Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is a proactive step towards enhancing your cybersecurity experience. It actively scans for and destroys malware threats before they wreak havoc. Scammers leverage technology to create botnets, which they utilize to inject harmful code into websites that people visit. Such dangerous code can steal your sensitive data anonymously. If your device has active antivirus software, it scans for malicious files and deletes suspicious ones.
- Find Out About the Most Common Online Cons
Many internet users either don’t know how online scams work, don’t know how to identify them, or both. Scams almost always work the same way, requiring you to act impulsively for you to divulge your sensitive data.
By educating yourself on the common tricks, you get to understand how con artists operate. Cybercriminals know how to be on the top of the game and develop new techniques every day. Hence, it’s important to keep up with the trends to avoid being caught unawares.
- Utilize VPNs
VPNs are designed to mask your IP address and encrypt your internet traffic to prevent the tracking of your online activity. Many internet attacks often occur when people use unsecured networks.
When you use a VPN, you encrypt your data, making it difficult for scammers to access or intercept communication between you and another server.
- Don’t Divulge Sensitive Information
There are countless ways fraudsters can steal your personal information. When interacting with strangers online, don’t share any personal data like your social security number, passport and bank account details, and even phone number. Such data can easily be used to set up illegal accounts or for identity fraud. By protecting such confidential information, you safeguard yourself from unwarranted online attacks.
- Avoid Public Wi-Fi
While using public Wi-Fi is a cost-effective way to browse the internet, the dangers that come with doing so far outweigh the benefits. Most public networks aren’t encrypted, thereby granting scammers unfettered access to traffic sent via the network. This means that scammers can access anything, from your login credentials to credit card details. If you perform financial transactions through public Wi-Fi, scammers can easily intercept your communication with the bank’s system and steal your money.
- Make Routine System Updates
Fraudsters these days are advanced enough to create malicious websites that leverage the vulnerabilities of popular web browsers. An average internet user cannot always differentiate between a fake and a legitimate website and may unknowingly let malware into their device.
To prevent this from happening, allow automatic updates for your browsers, apps, and devices. This will ensure that the latest security patches are installed for maximum protection against scams.
- Eschew Third-Party Apps
Many people fancy installing third-party applications. While such apps have their fair share of benefits, they expose you the most to scams. Con artists often create financial, trading, and other third-party apps and market them on social media to attract many users. They then proceed to steal their personal details when they sign in. To avoid such scam pitfalls, install apps from reputable online app stores.
10: Use Foolproof Passwords
Scammers would rather die trying to crack your passwords than skip the chance. So, if you have a weak password, rest assured it won’t take them long to hack it.
To avoid this, craft complex passcodes using a combination of characters. Additionally, you can use a reliable password manager that will create the password for you and keep it safe.
- Report Scams to the Relevant Authorities
Countries worldwide have come to terms with the reality of cybercrime and have set up authorities to handle these unique crimes. Reporting scams helps raise attention, add to their database of fraudulent techniques, and inform their decision on how to deal with them.
When authorities successfully prosecute some of these notorious offenders, it helps deter others in the same monkey business. This helps create a conducive online space that’s safe for future interactions and doing business.
As technology continues to evolve, so are the techniques being used by scammers. Even though government authorities are tasked with apprehending the fraudsters, it’s almost impossible to keep up. That’s why you should always be on your guard.
To safeguard yourself from online scams, you must seek sufficient knowledge. It is the only surefire way to stay ahead of the fraudsters and protect yourself and your loved ones from the growing statistics of online scam victims.