How to Keep Yourself Safe from Online Scammers?

Scams are common when someone is trying to access your personal data or cash from you. Scammers employ various tools to fool you. They typically do this through mail, on the Internet, or in person by phone. There are several options to stay clear of scams and keep your personal information and money secure. If you do become a victim of fraud, you are able to notify various authorities and organisations.

Who are Scammers?

Scammers are criminals. They scam to make money through tricking people. Scammers take on millions of victims each year. There are many types of scams. Examples of different types of scams and scammers can be found on scam website detectors like Zerothought

You could be approached by –

  • in person
  • via email or social media.
  • via the post
  • via text or phone

Scammers are able to find out details about you prior to when they even make contact. They employ a variety of techniques to accomplish this, including tricks, flattery, and manipulation of emotions. People who are older may be more vulnerable to scammers because they typically focus on people who – 

  • live alone, and you may be lonely and wish to connect with others.
  • they are home during the daytime
  • and are in possession of money or valuables.

How to Spot Scams?

  1. Examine common practices – Most scams follow the same patterns of facts. It is because scammers are aware of the best practices and what they don’t and attempt to trick you by using the most effective method. The first step is to make use of fear to induce you to do something. For instance, scammers may claim that a family member was detained and requires money. In addition, scammers may make an effort to force you into making the decision fast. The more time you take to think about what’s happening the greater chance is that you won’t fall victim.
  2. Find scams that are popular and involve money – Similar to scammers who employ typical techniques like panic and fear and panic, they also employ identical scams time and time. If you know what kinds of scams are commonly available it will be much easier to recognize them and stay clear of these scams. Scams can occur on the internet, via telephone, via mail, or even in the real world. The most frequent scams are – 

a. Advance fee scams happen when you hear that you’ve won a prize in a lottery, or that you could invest in something but all you have to pay is the small amount upfront.

b. The most common scams are when you hear that people are collecting money for a charitable cause. However, once you have made a “donation,” the scammers retain the money.

c. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams occur when you are told by the IRS that you are owed money for tax or they require your personal information to be sure your taxes are correctly filed. They attempt to get cash as well as your personal details to get your personal information and steal your identity.

d. Phantom debt scams are when someone contacts you as if they are a debt collection agency. They’ll threaten you and claim that you owe them money you really do not have to pay.

  1. Be aware of possible scams involving phishing – Phishing scams happen when people call you to inform you that there is an issue with a particular account that you have (e.g. credit card or loan accounts). They’ll tell you that they can resolve the issue however, they must verify your personal details. When they’ve got your personal details they will employ it to take your identity.
  2. Get scam alerts – One of the most effective ways to stay up-to-date with the latest scams is to receive alerts from the government. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an alert regularly sent to your email. The alert will provide suggestions and tips about how to stay clear of fraud. If you’d like to join to receive the alert, you can sign up on the FTC’s website. 

How to Stay Away from Online Scammers? 

  1. Protect your personal information from yourself – Since many of the most popular scams try to access your personal data one of the best methods to stay away from scams is to guard your personal data. Secure your password account number and other sensitive papers in a secure place. Don’t keep these details on your phone, where it is easily accessible.

a. Also, don’t place your mail in a location in a place where scammers may be able to grab hold of it. If you can, ask to have your mail delivered directly to your home rather than to the mailbox. If you do have a mailbox, you should get your mail out as quickly as you can.

b. If you receive a request that asks for your personal information, do not ever give it away. You should take extra precautions to make sure that the request is legitimate prior to deciding.

  1. Conduct searches onlineInternet site checkers can help you determine if you should continue interacting with a website or exercise caution. If you receive mailers asking for money or other information, you should follow up and conduct some research on the business or individual soliciting the details. Don’t assume that a solicitation is genuine. Do the following to help to avoid scams –

a. Enter the name of the company or product’s name into a web search. You can use words like “complaint,” “review,” or “scam.”

b. Find phrases or sentences that define your situation. For example, if for instance, you received a phone call from a person who claimed that they are from the IRS Search for “IRS call asking for Social Security Number.”

c. Check the phone number used to contact you. If you type the number into a web-based search engine, a few of the results that pop up will typically tell you if the number was used in the past for fraud.

  1. Contact people using authentic phone numbers – Today it’s easy for fraudsters to manipulate telephone numbers and caller IDs. Therefore, it is not wise to be able to trust the name and number you see at the bottom of your mobile. If you receive a contact from someone, inquire for their name and the organisation they represent and you will be able to contact them. When you are done with the phone, search the company’s details online. You should only contact legitimate numbers on reputable sites. 

a. As an example, suppose you receive a call from someone who claims to be from the IRS and ask for personal details. Instead of providing the information right away,  hang up the line. Visit the official IRS website and locate the customer service number. Answer the phone and inquire if anyone has contacted you with a request for private information.

  1. Do not pay any upfront – Many scammers ask for money in exchange for the promise to provide additional money in return. Scammers usually inform you that you’ve won a prize and that you have to pay fees or taxes to receive the prize. They may also ask to make a prepayment to get a job, relief from debt, or loan assistance.

a. But, you shouldn’t make any payments in advance. Be sure to verify the legitimacy of solicitations and programs before you give anyone any money. If you pay these people money you won’t receive the service or product that you have been promised.

  1. Consider the payment method you are asked to use – Scammers are known to request money from a specific source to stay out of the spotlight. The majority of scammers request money, money wires (e.g., Western Union), or credit cards that are prepaid (e.g., Vanilla). These payment methods are hard to trace and are nearly impossible to reverse. Any legitimate business will never request payment using these methods.

a. Most legitimate companies will require you to pay with personal checks or credit cards. These payment options come with security against fraud built-in and allow you to cancel charges and hold cash.

  1. Ask someone whom you can trust – Before giving out personal information or bank account details speak to someone who you trust about what’s happening. This could include family members, friends, or even professionals (e.g. lawyers, bank employees, or a government official). Inform them about the ad and ask them if they’ve previously encountered something similar to this.

a. Remember that scammers are looking to get you moving quickly without thinking. When you stop talking to someone else, you’re offering yourself the chance to avoid scams.

  1. Read cancellation policies – The majority of trial offers can automatically result in huge monthly costs while some trials will make it impossible to cancel after a specific amount of duration. If you are considering an offer to try a trial of things like TV channels, weight loss supplements or any other product, make sure to read the cancellation policy of the company.

a. Many businesses will allow you to cancel your account at any time. However, these companies may keep charging customers until you have disputed any charges to your financial institution.

b. Additionally, a number of companies will give you a trial for free when you are willing to buy more of the item or service at the conclusion time.

c. If you have signed up for a trial offer for something, ensure that you end the trial promptly and also check your accounts on a regular basis to see if there are any suspicious fees.

  1. Be wary of depositing checks from anyone whom you don’t have a connection with – Many scammers offer you a huge amount of money via check when you pay a smaller amount via cash or wire. But, the check you get will typically be fake. Although a bank might accept the check at first, it will eventually be discovered to be fake in the future. If that happens then it will be your responsibility to pay the bank.

a. So, don’t take a payment from someone you don’t know without conducting a thorough investigation.