Besides the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the healthcare and tourism industry, cybersecurity issues and scams have suddenly started to become rampant again. Many people are resorting to these methods to lure people into giving them money, likely because of the loss of income caused by the pandemic.
If you don’t want to see yourself in this situation, then you should be extra cautious and vigilant of your online and offline activities. The pandemic has already made a severely negative impact worldwide, and you wouldn’t want to get duped at an already difficult time like this.
There are many ways you can get scammed: SMS, email, a fake store, fake link, fraudulent calls, the list goes on. The best way to outsmart these scammers is to know what they’re up to, so you can learn to spot suspicious activities.
In line with this, here are some ways to protect yourself from some of the world’s biggest scams. Keep safe, folks!
1. Familiarize yourself with typical modus operandi
There are common SMS scams that fraudsters still engage in, despite how easy they are to spot. Typical examples are those saying you won a prize, those that impersonate large brands, or even those who pretend to be long-distance relatives asking for money.
But, fraudsters can pull some advanced tricks now, such as carrying a sender name of a reputable brand—leading you to believe that Apple is the one who sent that text message to you.
Don’t respond or immediately click any link that comes through your phone, and instead verify through other channels or sources with the information you’ve received. Acting on impulse makes you an easy target, and the last thing you want to happen is to let those tricksters win.
2. Do some heavy research
It’s common to get scammed by a store pretending to sell goods and services, as well. Because everything is online nowadays, and it’s easy for anyone to advertise by grabbing pictures online, you can’t just purchase from a store you’ve only heard about.
First, you should check all of their social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, the works. When did they start posting? Facebook shows the date of when a page was created, while it’s easy to scroll through a brand’s first post on Instagram to check the same info.
Next, take a good look at their website. Is it professionally-made? Are there weird and misplaced ads all over the place? Do they have trust signals, like a secure website seal, reviews, and proper information about their products? Always check reviews before buying online so you can be sure if you’re purchasing from a legitimate place.
3. Consider payment methods
Wiring money is often risky because there’s no guarantee that you can get your money back in case something goes wrong. But if it’s done through legitimate channels like PayPal, you can dispute a payment and have the third-party service mediate, especially if you didn’t get your product or service.
If they ask you to pay via cash basis only, then beware—it might be a scam. Check with other sources first if they operate like this. This is especially risky for those who sell secondhand items, so just make sure you always read reviews.
4. Get feedback from someone real
You can always reach out to the people who have reviewed the store or product that you want to get. That way, you can have greater peace of mind that the reviews made were real—and not fabricated to make the company look good.
The best people to approach are perhaps those who are vocal about the brand. Consider someone who has blogged about the service or posted it on their social media. Shooting them a quick message won’t hurt.
5. Don‘t give up personal information easily
It’s also easy to give personal info over the phone, especially if the caller is impersonating someone like your bank. Don’t be too sure of these kinds of calls and prefer to update your details in person instead. These things can help scammers steal your identity and use it as leverage when they want to ransom more information from you.
The same goes for all your social media posts and the content that goes with it. Set your privacy settings to the maximum degree and don’t accept anyone whom you don’t know personally into your circle. For instance, this could be a ticket for them to find out when you’re going out of the country, so your personal belongings may be left unsafe.
Always Be Cautious
While you protect yourself from COVID-19, don’t forget to safeguard your assets and stop any fraudulent acts right in its tracks, too. Scammers can easily fool those who aren’t aware, which is why reading up on tips on how to avoid them can be beneficial for you.
If you fear that you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact your local authorities and pursue legal action, however applicable. You can also share your stories online to prevent other people from falling into the same trap and educate people about new scamming techniques.