Online connectivity has drastically improved our lives, no doubt. Now, the world is even more connected than ever before. Whether it be talking to friends across the border, researching products, watching shows, or buying something, everything can be done online.
However, at the same time, internet users find themselves coming across online scams and attacks. In fact, according to Business Insider, one in every ten adults in the US end up falling for an online scam every year! And 23 percent of victims end up suffering from monetary losses because of it.
While scams are quite prevalent, still people don’t usually take them seriously. They either think that they are too smart to fall for such traps or think that such incidents won’t occur to them.
Understanding online scams
Before you can begin protecting yourself from online scams, it is first imperative to understand what they are. You must stay updated about the various types of online scams to know what you are up against.
Online scams refer to various methods of fraud undertaken by a malicious hacker or individual. There are multiple ways people can be scammed. This includes the following:
Sometimes, scammers will act as a service provider and send you emails about renewing your subscription or changing your password. The emails will look legitimate and feature the logo and credentials of the said service provider. Yet, when you click on the link embedded in the email, your account will get hacked. In other cases, you might be asked to share your card details, and your identity might be stolen.
Here is an example of a bogus email people may get from a scammer pretending to be Netflix. If you get such emails, always make sure to first check the address the email is sent from before clicking on any link.
Sometimes security flaws within the services you avail can make you vulnerable to scams. For instance, a credible service provider might bill you for something you never agreed to merely because you clicked on a link.
A few years ago, this was what Vodafone and Telestra subscrib
ers experienced. They ended up getting entangled in a third-party billing scam where they were charged for airG chat. The airG scam was dealt with swiftly by the company, which revisited all loopholes and vulnerabilities to prevent such scams from arising in the future.
Apart from taking swift action, airG also amped up the security of their services along with offering better transparency to users about the terms and conditions along with the mechanism of charges.
You might have already been advised to only stick to the top websites that appear for your search result. This is because Google, as well as other search engines, use algorithms to reflect the best and most secure sites on top. This is why SEO is so important!
So, you must ensure that the site you visit is secure. Do so by looking for the little lock that appears next to the site URL.
Why is this important? This is because various online scams are found on unprotected websites. Some scams might present themselves as fake antivirus software. Certain websites feature popups that show a warning saying that your computer has a virus.
If you click on the link, cybercriminals implant malware in the device rather than removing the alleged virus. This means that all data on the given device can now be accessed by criminals.
Social Media Scams
According to Statista, there are approximately 3.5 billion social media users in the world! This makes the platform a lucrative medium for scammers as well. And while social media platforms try their best to filter out scammers, they still exist on the network.
In fact, as per the Federal Trade Commission, social media-based identify theft and fraud increased by 10 percent in 2019. There were over 10,000 reports of such activity.
Whether it be a newsfeed post featuring a lucrative deal and urging you to click on a link or a person pretending to be someone else, it is imperative to keep your guards up when using different social media platforms.
How can you protect yourself?
Here are ways you can prevent falling into the trap:
- Stay updated with reality: Know about the popular and common scams, so you know what to avoid.
- Use two emails: Separate your personal email with the one you give to different websites and platforms. This helps in protecting your data.
- Report: Always report fraudulent activities to the cyber cell of your country to protect others.
- Contact service providers: If a scam comes directly from a service provider, contact them, and complain about it. There is a chance they might be unaware of it too.
- Review your bills: Always keep tabs on your bills to detect any discrepancy in payments.
Yes, scams are everywhere, and they are scary. But, this doesn’t mean you cannot avoid them! Know what you are up against and protect yourself.