Dealing with a scam?
Technology, in a word, is amazing. It’s capable of putting a wealth of information and a world of convenience right at your fingertips. Everything is so much faster and more efficient, whether you’re purchasing prepaid load, shopping, paying your bills, or simply chatting with your friends and loved ones.
However, technology can also be scary in the hands of the wrong people. In fact, scammers and cybercriminals are continuously coming up with new ways to trick people into parting with their hard-earned money.
Luckily, there are a lot of warning signs that can clue you in if you’re dealing with a scam. Here are some things that should raise red flags and put you on alert:
They’re Asking for Money, Prepaid Load, or the Like
If someone you don’t know suddenly gets in touch with you asking for money, prepaid load, or other money-related requests, be immediately suspicious. The same goes for people who say they’re your relatives and that they’re in trouble, asking for urgent help in the form of cash.
Firstly, it’s simply bad practice to send money to people you don’t know. Meanwhile, you probably have your loved one’s phone numbers or social media accounts. Call them directly and verify if they’re really in need of assistance. You can also check with their loved ones, say their spouse or their children. More often than not, your relatives will be safe and sound at home. Let them know about the scam you just encountered so they can also be prepared.
The Message Looks Different from Official Ones
You’ve probably received a few texts and emails from your utility providers and billers, particularly telcos and credit card companies. Study those messages carefully and be familiar with how they’re constructed. If you’ll notice, they sound proper and formal with correct grammar and spelling; most of them would even call you by name.
On the other hand, scam messages often have a handful of errors. They will also contain unusual instructions than what you’re used to doing (e.g., there are extra steps or using a different website). You should also beware of “spoofing,” which allows scammers to imitate official service numbers and emails. Thus, even if the sender’s number or email looks legitimate, you should still carefully study the contents of the message.
You’re Being Directed to a Suspicious-Looking Site
Speaking of spoofing and different websites, you should always check the URLs where a text or email is telling you to visit. For mobile users, you can do a long-press on the link. For those on a desktop or laptop, you can hover the cursor over hyperlinked text. The URL should appear when you do these steps. Check if the address starts with “https” to determine its security. If it doesn’t, then don’t open it.
If you accidentally open the URL, then look at the address bar. It should have a padlock icon on either the leftmost or rightmost side (depending on the browser). Remember that reputable banks, financial institutions, and online shops will always use a secure connection.
The most important check you have to perform is on the URL itself. You’ve probably visited your bank’s website quite a few times, or even have it bookmarked. If the URL looks markedly different, has spelling mistakes, or has odd-looking extensions, back off and report the issue to your bank.
You’re Being Threatened or Asked to Hurry
One of the biggest tactics of scammers is to create a sense of urgency. Did they say you won a prize? NOW is the only opportunity to get it. Did they tell you that your relative needs money? You need to send it NOW because it’s a big emergency. Scams will try to push you to rush so you don’t have too much time to second-guess yourself.
Another tactic that scammers use is sowing fear. Maybe they’ll tell you that you have to pay a loan immediately or you’ll go to jail, or perhaps that you’ll be shamed online. Don’t fall for this! Respected establishments won’t resort to these schemes. Even if you have an outstanding loan, they will get in touch with you properly and be open to negotiations.
You’re Being Asked for Personal Details
Finally and most importantly, if you’re being asked to reveal personal details, it’s most likely a scam. Your bank or credit card company won’t ask you for your account number or password outright. Rather, they will just ask you to log in to your account on their official website.
Similarly, banks, mobile wallet companies, and utility providers won’t ask you for an OTP. Remember: they’re the ones who are going to give you the OTP through an official number so you can input it on the website or app.
You should also be wary of people asking you for details such as your birthday, social security number, and other personal details over the phone. Just tell them that you’ll handle the matter personally and then hang up. Then, get in touch with the company and let them know about the attempted scam.
Aside from reporting to the authorities, the best way to protect yourself from scams is to practice good internet security habits. Use strong passwords and change them often. Always check if your apps are updated to the latest version to enjoy full security. Finally, let your loved ones know about common scams so they can also avoid being victimized. Stay safe!
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