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Written by: Mitch De Guzman
With the increasing dependency on the internet comes the heightening alert on cybercrime. Online scammers are also in full swing in taking advantage of this trend for their criminal activities. Alas! Technology isn’t spared from evil schemes.
The Philippine National Police reported that online scams are rising, and their impact might reach trillions of dollars this year alone. Despite warnings and reminders to always keep our guards up, many still fall for the trap. Newbies, most significantly, are those who are susceptible to these online scams. Since they are still learning to use the digital landscape, they are unaware that fraudulent transactions can happen online. However, even the most tech-savvy is not spared from this. Thus, it is crucial to remain vigilant because as technology advances, so do internet scams.
THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF ONLINE SCAMS
Even the most intelligent person might become a victim of internet scams as criminals get more inventive in their methods. It might strike at your weakest moment. Hence, it’s vital to be informed of the different internet scams that are now taking place to keep you on your toes.
Online banking is perhaps one of technology’s greatest gifts. It saves us time and resources since we can do it any time and anywhere with just a few taps. However, online banking transactions are also susceptible to scams. Indeed, they are the primary targets of fraudsters since it’s where the money is.
Now that online banking is becoming the norm, banks send out emails to account holders to keep them updated on their latest service features and warn them about email scams and other potential security threats.
Phishing emails, also known as brand spoofing, are emails and web pages that look precisely like legitimate sites and businesses. These cloned websites and emails are designed to dupe visitors into providing financial or personal information. If you are unaware of this modus, you’ll fall quickly into this trap because they really look the same. Well, almost!
Similar to email phishing, scammers will send you text messages that contain links to another site that may steal your information.
How to Spot and Avoid Phishing Emails
- Keep an eye out for spelling or grammatical errors. Email phishers do an excellent job at copying emails and web pages, but they are poorly written. The use of the first name is also a dead giveaway. Banks and reputable enterprises use their clients’ first names in their correspondence. They do this via email automation technologies since they have a database.
- Check the URL if it contains “https:” at the beginning of the internet address.
- Keep in mind that banks will NEVER ask for your personal information, especially your passwords, PIN, or card verification value (CVV). Similarly, they will not ask you to update or change your passwords online.
- Do not respond to any email requesting personal information.
A fake or spoofed email is when the sender purposefully modifies sections of the email to appear like it’s written by a legitimate source, such as banks, news publishing, and other reputable websites. Sometimes, it may even come from a private citizen somewhere. Dishonest users will change certain parts of an email to make the sender appear to be someone else.
Have you ever received a random e-mail or message on your social media page from someone claiming to have a particular amount of money they need you to transfer to another person? They may even offer you monetary reward for your efforts. These are email scams. Don’t bite these enticements because it will lead to disaster.
These scammers are called money mules, also known as “smurfers.” They will transfer ill-gotten funds to you, which you will electronically transfer into other bank accounts. Beware of this scheme as you may be implicated in a crime.
Online Shopping Scams
Talk about the pleasure of shopping without the hassles of commuting, long lines, and carrying big bags. That’s the joy of online shopping. It’s purchasing power at the touch of a button.
However, where there are genuine sellers, there are also imposters. They dupe buyers into purchasing non-existent goods. The other variation of this con is to deliver a counterfeit or utterly different item. It’s sometimes difficult to distinguish genuine merchants from fraudulent ones since they use fake advertisements on social media and well-known e-commerce platforms. They also use a phony retail website. To avoid a shopping scam, buy only from trusted sellers. Take time to check customer reviews.
These are text or email notifications informing you that you have won a large sum of money or great prizes in a lottery. You must, however, claim your wins within the specified time frame. In addition, you will be asked to send money to cover insurance costs, taxes, and more.
Scammers profit by delaying your winnings and demanding additional expenses. Furthermore, they will want personal information for verification and bank account information for transferring the money. When they get this information, they can take over your bank or credit card account.
So, before you get thrilled when receiving such messages, ask yourself first if you have ever entered a lottery.
Online Identity Theft
This is personal information that hackers have obtained and will use for their financial benefit. They’ll make it appear as if you’re the one doing and finishing online transactions and withdrawing monies from your bank account.
Mobile phone banking users and those who have incorporated their mobile phone numbers into their online workspace and social media sites are the targets of this scam. Typically, this occurs following phishing, in which fraudsters have already gotten access to your personal information.
Recently, the news has reported incidents of identity theft through illegal SIM swaps. In these cases, fraudsters pose as authorized representatives of a telecom company offering a SIM upgrade. Alternatively, they will contact the telecommunications company on your behalf and request that the SIM be replaced. If they succeed, they can access your banking information and other personal details.
Online Investment Scams
Investing your money is a beautiful way to grow your wealth. It is superior to a savings account since it provides more significant returns. And with the growing need for technology, online investments and e-trading are also becoming widespread.
There are numerous investment opportunities available on the internet. On the other hand, you should be cautious in selecting investment platforms and apps. Criminals will undoubtedly take advantage of this opportunity. They, too, evolve.
Emotional triggers are a powerful approach to persuade you to contribute money, gifts, or personal information. Scammers prey on victims by creating bogus profiles on social media platforms like Facebook and even reputable dating sites. They will try to lure you through romance or sympathy.
Scammers pose as a foreigner or someone working abroad. They will exert great efforts to pique your interest and acquire your trust, including disclosing personal details and even sending you presents. These scammers take their time winning your heart. They will really make an effort to impress you. And when they have earned your trust, they will begin to subtly or bluntly ask for money, gifts, bank account details, or credit card information. They will fabricate stories to justify their actions.
This is prevalent on Facebook as fraudsters can hack and copy user profiles. These scammers will pretend to be your relative in deep despair due to financial trouble or an ailing family member. They may also act to have become unwell or figured in a terrible accident and ask you for money to cover medical expenses. You may even be approached by someone claiming to be their doctor in some cases. You could wind up losing a lot of money regardless of how you are duped. The elderly are the most likely victims of this fraud.
These are just a few examples of internet scams. There are more, and there will be a new modus. These wicked individuals will never tire of devising new schemes to defraud unsuspecting individuals of their hard-earned money. They are as persistent as technological improvements. Therefore, we must never let our guards down and remain watchful at all times.
Here are some helpful reminders for you to print and hang on your wall. These will serve as a quick reminder when you’re doing business online.
TIPS TO AVOID ONLINE SCAMS
- Never disclose your business and personal information, credit card, and bank account details online until you have confirmed the website’s legitimacy.
- Don’t share your personal information on social media sites, particularly your bank and credit card details. Scammers locate potential victims by using publicly available information.
- Examine a website’s digital certificate to validate the domain name and the business.
- Install antivirus software, spyware filters, email filters, and firewall tools to keep your computer safe. Always keep your security software up to date.
- Never open attachments or click on links from suspicious emails, as these may contain malware. Don’t reply nor subscribe to these messages, as well.
- Shred documents that contain confidential information before disposing of them.
- Remember, if it’s too good to be true, then it’s most likely a scam. There is no such thing as get-rich-quick schemes. Only the con artists benefit from them.
- We often hear this line, “Use your common sense.” But, yes, please. Carefully weigh your options before investing. Better yet, ask around for advice.
- If you’re suspicious, ask some personal questions to test the imposter.
- Verify with the person they claim to be. If he’s unavailable, ask someone close to him.
- Lastly, don’t give the money unless you are a hundred percent sure it’s a legitimate business or the actual person you’re dealing with.
What to do if you’re a victim of internet fraud
If your account has been hacked or you have been a victim of an online scam, you must take the following steps right away:
- Notify your credit card and bank companies as soon as possible
- Report the incident to law enforcement agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or the Philippine National Police (PNP). For investment scams, you may report them to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Go to your telecom company to replace your SIM or your phone number.
- Change all of your passwords and enable an additional authentication step.
- Since most of these scammers are overseas, you can also file a report to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Check the Federal Trade Commission page for more details.
Online scams are one of the biggest threats to internet users, particularly those looking for a secure place to buy and sell online. While law enforcement organizations are tireless in pursuing these con artists, it is not easy to apprehend them.
It requires hours of research and cyber forensic analysis to find, preserve, retrieve, analyze, and present data as evidence. They also have to make the evidence admissible in court.
Additionally, exceptional technical skills are required when gathering and analyzing evidence, such as decrypting encrypted files, recovering deleted files, cracking passwords, and so on. Hence, if you don’t want to go through this grueling experience, you must proceed with utmost caution whenever you receive unwanted communications and do online transactions.
Safe and Secure Connection
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Stay informed with the latest news. Sign up with Streamtech and you’ll never have to worry about security again.
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