Ah! Online scams. Leave it to people to find a way to prey on innocent souls who’ve just learnt how to use the internet just for their own selfish desires. Jokes aside.
Online scamming is a serious issue ever since online transactions have made their way to the world wide web. So what are online scams? Well, they refer to any fraudulent activity over the internet that takes advantage of unsuspecting victims for personal benefit and possibly harms the person getting scammed.
If that scared you, then you really should be. It is essential to be careful while working with anything involved with monetary transactions as that’s what most scammers want.
But that does not mean you should boycott the internet, you need to fight back. Always remember the slogans for the US marines and a popular meme template, “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”. You need to be able to detect these fraudulent activities and avoid them at all costs. How? Follow these steps:
- Phishing and PharmingOne of the most common ways of scammers to get hold of your information is by methods known as “phishing” and “pharming”. Phishing refers to a fake email sent to you by scammers that resembles a legit email sent to you by banks, insurance companies, subscription services or anything for that matter. These emails will usually ask you to reply with your information that they intend to use to scam you.
It is hard to detect a phishing email as some scammers do a pretty good job of making the email as convincing as possible by using the same format as, for example, your bank would while even including the right logos.
Pharming is basically the same as phishing except that it is used by creating fake web pages resembling legit sites that ask you for your personal information.
How to Avoid: When it comes to phishing, you just need to remember that a real email from a bank, your insurance company, FBI or anyone for that matter, will NEVER ask for sensitive information over email. If they do, it’s a scam. It is also helpful to check the email address of the sender. If the domain name after “@” is not precisely the one used by the actual firm, it’s probably a fake.
When it comes to pharming, it is slightly trickier to detect scams as you do need to use for credentials to log in or even perform transactions on websites but the trick here is to always check the address bar of the website especially the domain name. A legit firm will always use proper domain names that usually involves the name of the firm and nothing else. If that’s not the case, I’d suggest you don’t trust that site because I’d definitely won’t!
- Insane OffersThere might be a chance that you receive an email or see an advertisement on a website that says something like, “You’ve just won $1,000,000. Click here to avail before the offer expires”. If that excited you and made you want to follow that link, then sorry to burst your bubble, but you need to STOP. It a classic trap of luring the greedy among us to visit their website to god knows what awaits there.
You just need to accept the fact that no one in their right mind would give something good to a random stranger on the internet for free, let alone a Million Dollars. The provided link may redirect you to download an app to proceed and, for all you know, that could be a ransomware.
How to Avoid: If you’ve received an offer from an email and you’ve haven’t applied to any lottery or program associated with what that offer is about then it’s up to no good. Simply DO NOT reply to that email or open the link that they’ve provided. It is also important to note that once the scammers have your email, they will send you multiple emails that’ll clutter your inbox.
It is advised that once you detect one of those emails, mark it as spam and then emails from that sender and any similar emails will be filtered out automatically by your email service.
- Danger ThreatsYou might recall on multiple occasions when you open a webpage or a pop-up, you get this flashing warning message that screams “Virus Alert” or “Your PC might be in danger. Act now”. Well, I’ll let you guess this one. Yes, these are all scams.
The simple logic behind detecting these is to just know that your browser is NOT an antivirus program. If you’re running a Windows PC, you have a built-in anti-virus called “Defender”. Defender has a SmartScreen feature that instantly prompts you when there’s an actual problem with your beloved PC.
How to Avoid: If a website frequently gives you annoying pop-ups you really do need to reconsider on the websites you visit. If that’s an issue and your need to visit those websites is a necessity, then try using a pop-up block feature on your browser. It comes built-in on most popular browsers.
As I’ve mentioned previously, most scammers are after your cash. If any of your online activities is even remotely involves you typing out information related to your credit card details, your bank details, any credentials to an email account that is involved with your bank, you need to STOP and think before you select the “Submit”, “Next” or even the “Send” button.