How To Protect Yourself From Online Scams?

Photo by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash
2 years ago

Every year millions of people fall prey to online scams and frauds, unknowingly, where maximum times they are left with no option to recover from the loss, especially the heavy ones.

Ever since the digital space is expanding, offering a myriad of benefits, one cannot ignore the high chances of cyber fraud that comes along with every internet invention. One wrong click is enough as bait for a user where hackers can be successful in their criminal activities and land users in serious trouble and lead to grave financial erosions.

So for our readers, we bring some major scenario-related tips and measures an individual can apply to be aware and careful on acting on suspicious activity.

Recommendations to Protect your Crucial Information Online in Different Scenarios

Here are a few tips to protect your personal information and adopt good practices for the use of social networks, sites, and digital platforms for any purpose you intend to perform via digital means.

#1 – Fake Profiles on Social Networks

Social media users can sometimes come across scams.

A scammer or cybercriminal may copy a user’s image and name and add basic information of a real account, thereby creating an identical Facebook or Instagram or Twitter account.

He/she may then send friend requests to the real user’s social network and unknowingly hack their account or leak sensitive information that is private to an individual’s account.

What does it consist of?

Cybercriminals create fake social media profiles to damage our online reputation, extort money from us, or steal our personal data to commit other fraudulent acts on our behalf. That is why it is important to be careful with the information we publish on the Internet.

How to protect yourself?

To protect yourself against this impersonation on social networks:

-Collect evidence of that impersonation to send it to the social network where that false profile has been registered.

-Exercise your rights of access, rectification, cancellation, and opposition to the processing of your personal data.

-Increase privacy on your social networks by choosing the information you want to share and with whom you want to share it.

-Do not accept friend requests from strangers as it may be a false profile.

-Do egosurfing: search the Internet for your data and you’ll find out if someone is using it on any website or social network.

-Choose well the people you want to add to your social networks.

#2 – Fraudulent Online Stores

Using sophisticated designs and layouts, cybercriminals can create and publish fake retailer websites that look genuine or replicate existing retailer websites.

Fake shopping sites can offer deals that are too good to be true. Say, you find some popular brands of clothing and expensive electronics at very low prices on an eCommerce online store.

Certainly, you will be urged to buy it.

And what if you trust the website and make a purchase?

The maximum probability is you may receive the item and find out it is fake, or you may not receive anything at all. Or if you are lucky, whose chances are quite low, you may receive a genuine product/item.

What does it consist of?

Through this fraud they make us believe that we access a legal online store but what they are after is to steal our data or our money. They present us with irresistible offers and, once the order is placed, we do not receive the product or, if we receive it, it is a counterfeit.

How to protect yourself?

To protect yourself from this online scam you should:

-Look at the appearance of the website: if it is a poorly built or unattractive website, it means that it may have been created in a hurry to imitate a legitimate website.

-Check the legal information of the company: review the legal notice and the privacy policy of the website where the NIF, company name, and contact information of the company must appear. If the page does not have these texts we should be suspicious.

-Look at the prices: you should be suspicious if the price is too low compared to that of the official store or other websites.

Look at the opinions of other users about that product.

-Analyze the permitted payments: avoid buying on websites that only accept transfers or card payments as payment methods.

Check the reputation of that company on the Internet.

-Verify the SSL certificate: Legitimate online stores must have a secure HTTPS connection and a security certificate.

#3 – Fake Tech Support

Surely many of you have seen an ad while you are on your computer indicating that it is infected with a virus, that you must turn it off and contact the technical service through a number that is indicated in that notice. This is fake tech support fraud.

What does it consist of?

If we call the number they indicate, they can ask us for money for a false repair of our computer or they can install malicious programs with which cybercriminals will access our personal information and carry out illicit or malicious actions from that device.

How to protect yourself?

To protect yourself from this scam:

-Uninstall the apps that those scammers have asked you to install.

-Reset your device if you’ve given fraudsters access to it.

-Modify the passwords for access to applications and services.

-Install all security updates when they are available.

-Report the incident to the official provider that the scammers have been posing as.

-Call the bank to cancel payments to that bogus tech support.

#4 – Online Fraud in Job offers

Fake job offer emails are becoming more prevalent and a common way to steal money and credentials.

What does it consist of?

Cybercriminals take advantage of unemployed people’s trust in third parties to find a job and publish or send emails with false offers. With this, they intend to obtain an economic benefit by requesting advance payments for management, initial training, insurance, etc.

How to protect yourself?

Here are the tips to protect yourself from this fraud:

-Check the website of that company to find information about it and the opinions of other users.

-Do not trust if they ask you for money to buy material that we will need to carry out the work.

-Use reliable portals to search for employment or websites of official entities and bodies.

-Be suspicious if the company asks you to contact them through premium rate numbers (803, 806, 807, 907, etc.)

-Check that this company complies with the data protection policy.

-Check that the wording of that offer does not have spelling or grammatical errors.

-Be wary if they ask you to make an advance payment.

#5 – Scams in Buying/Selling Products

Currently, technology has facilitated the purchase/sale of any product, for this reason, millions of people see in these media the ideal tools to carry out any business, purchase/sale of cars, computers, furniture, electronic items, tickets for shows, fashion accessories.

The scams are not always from a seller to buyer, there are also fake buyers, who manage to acquire the product without making any type of cancellation. Therefore, great care must be taken, both to charge buyers for the item sold, and to put the buyer’s money at risk without first checking the item to be purchased.

What does it consist of?

Fraud in the purchase/sale of products is one in which the circumstances of deception concur in a purchase/sale. To achieve his goals, the criminal uses multiple means to capture the attention of a customer through ingenuity and malice, to harm him in the sale or purchase of a good. In other words, they are those bad arts invented by scammers to cheat the trust of their victims.

How to protect yourself?

Here are some tips to protect yourself from this scam:

-Review the comments made by other users about that seller.

-Look at the advertisement and check if it has false images taken from the Internet or counterfeit products.

-Be suspicious if they ask you to continue the conversation outside the platform, make payments in advance or offer you more money for the product without a justified reason.

-Use secure payment systems such as cash on delivery or Paypal or any other popular and trusted payment gateway.

-Beware of products whose prices are much lower than those of the market.

-Check the profile of the seller/buyer and be wary if those profiles are strangers or from foreign countries.

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