Fraud Blocker

How To Spot an Online Scam

Knowing how to identify online scammers is very important nowadays, as these internet frauds are on the rise.

With the ever-advancing technology, scammers are upgrading themselves and are getting more sophisticated in attempting to get people’s money or personal details. There are many types of internet frauds that span across the internet. These scams target a wide range of people from various countries, backgrounds, ages, and income levels. They create stories that are so believable that even the most seasoned cynic sometimes falls into their trap. This article will discuss how online frauds work, how toidentify a scammer, and how to protect yourself from online scams.

Phishing scams

One of the timeless scamming methods is the phishing method. Scammers cleverly masquerade as a legitimate entity, usually to steal sensitive data and information, and often, when people fall for these types of internet frauds, they lose a lot of money. Scammers are great at making messages look so real, that they appear to be from legitimate entities such as banks. Online banking frauds are one of the most dangerous scams as people are known to have their entire savings wiped out at the click of a wrong button.

One way to identify the difference between phishing emails/texts and legitimate ones is that legitimate ones will only provide the necessary information, requiring you to log in to your account to make any changes. Banking scammers will copy this format but add links to redirect you to spoofed websites designed to trick you into revealing your sensitive information. A good rule of thumb is even if the links may be real, manually type out the bank website into the search engine address bar and ensure that the website address is preceded by https:// and not http://, as well as the presence of a lock symbol. Keeping in mind that online banking frauds want people to reveal their information, and thus aims to create fear or a sense of urgency hoping that people will react instinctively if they think they are about to lose all their money.  People should stay calm and take proper steps to ensure the safety of your bank accounts by conducting checks with the bank to ensure validity of such notifications.

Online shopping scams

All the tips above apply here as well since online shopping involves online money transactions. Always look out for deals that sound too good to be true. If it sounds like it is, it most likely is. Always ensure the payment method is secure.  Choose to shop on online platforms that use the escrow system to protect both buyers and sellers. Scammers will usually ask you to transfer money via non-secure payment methods such as wire, bank or international funds transfers, money orders, pre-loaded gift cards, and cryptocurrency. Look for secure online shopping platforms or sellers that allow the use of credit cards or PayPal.

Classifieds scams

Many scammers lurk in the classified sections, offering various items or services. Often, these classifieds are very convincing as they are accompanied by legitimate looking photos of the items being sold. A quick reverse image search can show you if these photos are taken from elsewhere on the internet, and if they are, it is most likely a scam. Also, when communicating with the seller, ask for additional photos or a video as proof, or if possible, see it in person. Again, deals that sound too good are probably fake. Always ensure that the payment methods offered by the seller are secure.

Emails with compromised links

This type of internet fraud is similar to phishing and is usually hard to identify the email as a scam email because they usually sound legitimate. Some even spoof the emails of a contact you are familiar with or those of reputable institutions. A lot of businesses usually receive these types of emails, disguised as emails from the higher-ups in the organisation asking payments to be diverted to bank accounts the organisation does not usually engage with. If you ever receive such an email, always verify the details with the recipient, and confirm changes in payment procedure with your organisation’s accounts department.

What are the signs of a scammer? It is easier to identify a scam if you know what to look out for. Be careful if a stranger or someone you have not been in touch within ages contacts you out of the blue, asking for money. Also, beware of those who demand payment in unsecure payment methods. Never react instinctively to texts or emails that sound urgent, take your time to investigate and confirm.

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