Don’t judge a book by its cover.
This adage never loses its relevance, despite the radical shift of times. Floating in the tech-crazy world, we might sometimes fall into superficial traps. The enticing offers and tempting taglines often persuade people to make an absurd move.
Only to discover them falling into a bottomless pit of mischief, where they end up losing their personal information, money, or highly-confidential data.
There is only one thing that could protect you – Information. Loads and loads of it!
What is internet fraud?
It is a type of cyber deception that could involve hiding information or providing incorrect facts to retrieve the victims’ money, property, or data. However, it is different from theft because the victim knowingly and voluntarily provides information or money to the perpetrator.
A study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and McAfee reported that cybercrime costs the global economy around $600 billion. This amount translates into 0.8% of the total global GDP.
How to detect a scam?
Scammers have become increasingly progressive in their ways to trick and fool Internet users. Here are the following signs that will let you know who/what is a scam:
The scam often happens in the name of a reputable organization
A scammer tends to use the name of a famous organization. They might use names like IRS, Medicare, Social Security Administration, or make up names that sound highly official. Sometimes, you might receive an email or a call from a so-called utility or tech company where they ask for donations.
The same issue took place in the case of the airG scam. People who subscribed to Vodafone and Telstra received bills for a chat service they never signed up for. The airG, on the other hand, responded instantly and illustrated transparency of the process from their end. They reversed the issue, which is very unlikely of most other service providers.
You may also come across individual phone calls where they insist on giving your bank information because you won a prize in a lottery or sweepstakes. Don’t fall or it before you double-check its authenticity. As per TrueCaller, 56 million US residents lost money from a phone scam in 2020.
The scam pushes you to act instantly
Know it is a fraud when they ask you to take action there and then. If you are on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up, so you can’t verify its authenticity. If it’s an email, it shows a countdown to click, or you will lose your prize.
They might threaten to arrest you, take away your driver’s license, sue you, or deport you. A government or a reputable organization will never threaten someone at personal contact. They launch an official process for this.
Scams succeed because they catch you off the guard when you are not expecting it. It is vital to address all the myths surrounding scams to strengthen your defense against them. Below are a few myths surrounding digital fraud:
Myth # 1: One can easily spot a scam
There is a prevalent assumption that a scam is easily detectable. For example, some people think you can figure out a fraudulent email by the type of grammar it uses. They believe it brims with typos and errors.
While this might be real in some cases, it is not always like this. Scammers, as we said earlier, have become increasingly sophisticated in their activities. If you watch out for typos and poor grammar, then you may still fall into a scam.
Myth # 2: Scams rarely happen
Thinking you are smart enough to never fall into a virtual trap could be a colossal mistake on your part. In a spam survey conducted by the Messaging, Malware, and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group, 46% of the respondents said they replied or clicked on spam out of curiosity. It was either to unsubscribe or to learn more about the products/services being offered.
So, there is no problem with being optimistic, but you must be cautious about your online presence. Considering the escalating number of data breaches in 2020, we can safely assume that the trend will continue in the next year.
Myth # 3: Nothing comes out of filing a report
At times, you know you have fallen victim to an online scam, but it is too late. Perhaps you provided your account number, PIN, or password to an unidentified source – notify the companies that you have an account with, right away!
A study by Better Business Bureau, FINRA, and the Stanford Center for Longevity revealed that about 53% of all people scammers approach would engage. Meanwhile, the other 47% will immediately become suspicious and ignore them.
If you are among the former, don’t fret out. There are a handful of remedies to protect you. Also, you can save those out there who are likely to fall into such scams. As per the CBB research, 49% of scam reports end up helping others. Hence, take some time out and write about your experiences on social media platforms. It spreads awareness, and people will stay away from malicious attempts.
Fortunately, there are a bunch of tips to follow and safeguard your virtual momentum. Here are a few:
- Do background research on the individual or company who contacts you.
- Do not open suspicious texts, emails, windows.
- If someone is asking for your PIN, Password, or address – don’t disclose the information unless you are sure.
- Choose your passwords carefully on social media as they too have security risks associated sometimes.
- Review your privacy and security settings.
- Stay careful when shopping online.
- Beware of unusual payment requests.
It is crucial to stay in the information loop to know all kinds of threats roaming in the digital climate. Being well-informed will make it easier for you to detect a scam and even keep your friends/family out of hot waters. We hope you will be the ultimate savior and keep all virtual mischief at bay.