Digital Scams To Be Aware Of
While some digital scams have been around as long as the internet, cyber criminals continue to look for new ways to get their hand on your funds, personal information and passwords. That means we need to be just as knowledgeable about the scams as the scammers.
There are some golden rules to adhere to – like never write down or give out your account passwords or ‘one time passcodes’, no matter who’s asking. The care you’ve always taken with your personal information still applies, but as old scams stop working and scammers get more creative, it’s helpful to know about the new ones so that you don’t fall foul of convincing ploys.
To help you keep an eye on red flags, here’s a look at the most popular scams doing the rounds at the moment.
The Whatsapp ‘mum’ scam
This particularly devious scam has been doing the rounds lately and preys on a mum’s need to help their children. The scam involves a Whatsapp message from an unknown number that tells you it’s your child using a friend’s phone, because theirs has broken or they’ve run out of credit. In their desperation, they’ll tell you they need money transferred to help them get out of their sticky situation. There are some variations, like a message that might claim to be from your son or daughter telling you they have a new phone number. Believing it’s their child, mums will have a conversation with the scammer until at some point they ask for money to solve an issue or buy something that’s needed. Of course, it’s wise to always be sceptical of any message from an unknown number asking for money. You can try ringing your son or daughter on their known number to find out the real situation, or ring the unknown number to hear your child speak. Another option is asking the person messaging something that only your son or daughter would know.
Romance scams were around long before the internet was invented, but internet dating sites and social media have given romance scammers an easier ride. Remember, the transfer of money in either direction is not a normal part of a budding romance. The person on the other end of the dating profile could be anyone, and there’s no guarantee this person isn’t out to con you. Remember you’re under no obligation to hand over £20 to secure tickets to something for the first date, and if you’ve seen the Tinder Swindler– the shocking documentary about a career romance scammer – you’ll know a romance long con is a very real issue too. So use extreme caution when dating online: beware of anyone who seems cagey….and never hand over money.
Shopping scams are when customers are scammed out of money for products or services that don’t exist – in some cases unsuspecting customers have paid for holidays that turned out to be fictitious. So always double check that you are using a legitimate website. Take a closer look at the web address and make sure it’s the site of a verified company, and do further research on the company if you’re unsure. For example, you can look for company reviews and scam warnings through Google. And be wary of requests to transfer money direct from your bank account, as if there’s another payment option. If you’re selling items online, beware of ghost customers. These are people who order from you, receive the product, and never pay – they’ve often stolen an identity and are using false information. So always make sure you receive payment, or at least a deposit up front, and that you sell through a reputable site.
Most scammers do their best to target vulnerable people, but when it comes to government scams it seems they are targeting everyone, and because of the authority that government communications hold, anyone could fall for it. If you receive a text message or email from a government body telling you you’ve paid too much income tax or you qualify for a rebate on council tax, or that you can claim a fuel allowance, beware. Government bodies will not ask you to apply for repayments this way. As you’ll know, another golden rule to avoid being scammed is to never click on links in text messages or emails that you aren’t certain are safe – no matter how official it seems.
Greetings e-card scam
This scam has been a growing problem since we began sending e-cards, but especially since Covid hit. E-cards certainly serve a purpose, but they also open up a new opportunity to scam you. Scammers can either find your birthday through your social media or use special days like Valentine’s Day or Easter as a reason to send you an e-card. In an email, you’ll be asked to click on the link to view your e-card and find out who it’s from. It’s tempting, but it’s not a wise choice. Instead of a lovely greeting card, you might receive malware, which can infect your computer and steal your personal information. The company should let you know who the card is from without you clicking on a link, and you can check with that person to be sure it’s legit.
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