The rise of the internet has revolutionised the very nature of our existence. Never before have we had such a collective source of information at our fingertips. On account of this, it has never been easier to complete everyday tasks such as searching for a job, ordering groceries and or clothing, updating your friends via social media, research and university work, or simply making your online presence known.
As outlined above, the internet can have many uses. On the whole, the introduction to this service has been highly beneficial for us; however, with great power comes great responsibility, and all positives have negatives. The internet’s increase in popularity has made it even more accessible for our information to be stored and for unaware people to fall prey to bad intentions.
This guide will address how to identify a scam, what types you should look out for, and how to protect you against them for future endeavours on the internet.
What is a scam?
Scams can come in many formats, and attempts to defraud the general public are getting increasingly intricate, which we know as fraud claims rose by a third in 2020. In a nutshell, scammers target people of all ages, backgrounds, and income levels. All have the intention of stealing or tricking you into disclosing your personal information so that they can ultimately extract money from you. Therefore it is vital to know how to recognise a scam to protect yourself and others from fraudsters.
Continue reading, and we’ll later outline what you need to do if you think you’ve been targeted or fallen victim to a scam.
What types of scams are there?
Different types of scams vary; they could be in the form of a knock on your door from a rouge contractor or even a telephone call. However, all the advances in digital communication stemming from the internet have made it easier for fraudsters to target people. Because the internet always has a level of anonymity, you never really know who you could be talking to as anyone can hide behind a laptop screen.
One popular scam is ‘phishing,’ which involves receiving what you’d presume was a legitimate email from your bank or a delivery courier. Typically, these emails will ask for a small fee to ‘unlock your account’ or ‘re-deliver a parcel,’ but it will take you to a fake website that the fraudsters will use to collect and store your personal information. Fraudsters have also been known to breach private businesses’ emails, such as law firms, accountants, etc., and ‘phishing’ emails are sent to people using their client database. If you have been in this situation before and would like to know more about SaaS security risks, then take a look at this handy guide on Vendr’s website. Browse their site and services, and you might be able to understand better how to prevent this from happening to you.
How do you recognise a scam?
There are plenty of ways to recognise a scam, including:
- Contacted by phone; if you’ve received a phone call and don’t recognise the number, or it’s anonymous, it is best to avoid it. If someone you know is legitimately trying to get a hold of you, they will find other ways.
- Contacted by email; if you get an email from a sender you don’t recognise, always make sure to expand the top of the message as it could say that it’s from a reputable company. Still, when you enlarge the pane, it might expose mistakes such as misspellings, numerical errors, random characters, etc.
- Contacted by text; fraudsters can imitate phone numbers which is known as ‘number spoofing’. In any event, always expand the contact information, double-check the number, never click on any links, and don’t be afraid to contact the company directly if you have any suspicions.
How do you protect yourself against them?
Now you know how to identify scams; the next step is to protect yourself against them. Arguably the most crucial piece of information to take away from this guide is to never give out personal information over the internet, especially bank details, and be wary of unsolicited contact from companies. If contacted unexpectedly – don’t be afraid to seek reassurance by contacting the company directly and verifying that the communication was legitimate.
What should you do if you’ve been the victim of a scam?
If you believe that you or someone you know has fallen victim to a scam, make sure that you cease sending money immediately and contact your bank. You should also let them know if direct debit has been set up, they will also cancel this for you. The next step would be to contact Action Fraud, which you can do over the phone or on their site, and from here, you will be able to fill out a claim and keep track of it.