It was the deputy Mayor of London Policing, who says, ‘we live in a world where we are under pressure to get things done quickly.’
UK Royal Bank of Scotland reported on-line scam and fraud in United Kingdom reached over 2.5 million incidences last year. This shows the scale of on-line scams. What then can we do to avoid being a victim?
It is important to get good antivirus and malware on your system as well as taking extra care in your activities on-line. In 2015, 430m pieces of new malware surfaced, up by 36% from previous year.
This is receiving a suspicious email or text or phone call purportedly from a bank telling you your money is at risk, and needs to be moved elsewhere, or ask for your pin. Never respond to it, put down the phone, do not click on any attachment, or link. Do not use the phone you received the call from for up to 30 mins or one hour.
Another popular WhatsApp scam is sending out a message that most users now resend round asking to download a 4G WhatsApp application, or to upgrade, and start using WhatsApp video calling. All these are fraudulent, either to steal your phone data, or an unscrupulous individual on-line marketer using this to get more clicks.
Dating or Romance Scam
Meet the person first in a public place before you start your love story. Inform at least one person where you are going to meet the date. Be aware if he/she is not in town. Let him/her know nothing will happen until you see each other in person. If money comes into the conversation, take a dive, its either to borrow money for false medical emergency or probably ‘one of those war hero’ in a remote country that needs money to fly home ‘purposely to see you.’
Do not believe the displayed photograph. Most Romance scammers steal others’ photos to make right impression on potential victims.
Rental & Vacation Scam
This comes in many variation, examples are: apartment rental scam, short let/holiday home scam. Please verify before you pay any money. Make sure you visit the place with another or use a ‘mystery shopper‘. If at all you part with money, use an escrow service- a third party company that will keep money for both parties pending final arrangement.
Tracking device from legitimate rental companies or hotels can deceive to scam potential victims. Always check the ‘URL’ properly that it is what you want, and not a similar one. Also there’s a red flag if they ask for bank transfer, and any other unsecured payment.
Gift card/gift voucher scam
Here you will receive an email of being selected for a popular store voucher or gift card, and provide you with a link to claim your gift. This link is a phishing scam to steal your ID
Here you get a text supposedly from your mobile phone provider ‘explaining’ your account, and bill and providing you a link to view the details. Do not open this link, as it contains malware that will encrypt your phone data.
Some iPhone users have reported receiving a text supposedly from apple that their contract is about to expire, and provides a link to update it. This link contains phishing to steal the ID.
If you receive any of such, do not open up any link and do not disclose any personal information. Be vigilant always.
Be sure of who you are dealing with
As majority of purchases are being done on-line, know who you are dealing with. Take time to research the company, read reviews, and search for its phone number and or address. All these might seem daunting, but will minimise your risk.
Check your bank statements
Always check your bank statements regularly to spot any unfamiliar transaction. If any, this has to be reported immediately to your bank. London police chief has cautioned banks refunding losses on on-line scams back to customers. He said refund makes customers more complacent and careless in on-line transactions.
Donations & Charitable giving
Charitable giving is a laudable thing, but unbelievably also prone to scammers. Ensure that you deal with recognised and established institutions. There’s nothing wrong with donating to upcoming ones, just ensure that you know and recognise who they are. Ignore the link that invites you, log in directly into the organisation website yourself.
Buying health & beauty products
This is an area to be VERY cautious of. It’s better NOT to buy health and beauty products like medication and skin cream on-line, but if you must, deal with the pharmacies you know well, and log in directly through their website, not through a link on your email. Consult your GP before you do this.
Most fraud of this type only sell placebos, and or fake or a mixture of the both. Indeed it can result in fatality, as taking on-line medication can be toxic, unregulated and can result in instant death.
This is another area where scammers use to dupe people. If you are invited to invest in a lucrative venture, promising gargantuan returns, that should be a red alert. If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably is.
You could be a victim of scam if you believe all those internet business offers that promise millions in profit in matter of weeks.
On-line job search
Job hunters are being ripped off by scammers purportedly to be recruitment agency, making them believe they have a job offer, and asking for processing fee and money for CRB (enhanced criminal record investigation, needed by most employers in UK). These individuals are not recruitment agencies, or are the greedy ones that delight in just collecting money from desperate job hunters. Stay clear of them.
You might ask for their company and address, and do your research before parting with your money. It is true that most organisation require a CRB check before you are employed, but ensure that you get a firm letter of employment first before parting with money for CRB. You have a right to ask recruitment agency to give you an offer depending favourable outcome of your CRB.
Buying or adopting a pet
Most people love to keep pets, either buying directly or through adoption agencies. Here, a scammer will post a gorgeous picture of a pet for sale or adoption on-line. Be careful, this picture is not the same as the pet for sale. The address is usually false, and pets of this type of sale are usually from unregistered breeder, who wants to make a quick buck. Agree to meet the pet in its natural environment, and do not go alone. Its always better to contact local RSPCA to buy or adopt a pet.
Up-selling is where you are deceived into buying a product, which you believe is a bargain, and after paying you are you are informed the product will only work with another product they offer for a much higher cost. You either ask for a refund, or as most people, you just sit on the fence, and loose that money. Most refund are very slow coming.
Up-sells are very distasteful, what we consider to be a bad marketing technique, and people should NOT be fooled. Advertisers should lay their card on the table, let us have all the cost, and let consumers decide whether they want to proceed or not. If you purchase through a credit card, it is much easier to claim your money back than any payment through any other means.
Fake copy of original website
Hackers and scammers make copies of genuine websites to trick victims into believing they are into original website. Most steal money and ID from the sites they duplicate.
Beware of invitations on your email informing you that you have won a substantial amount of money. This advance fee fraud, asking you to pay money for processing your payment and or for tax.
If you have not entered into any lottery, there’s no chance of you winning. If you did enter any, and won, you will not have to pay any fee, and if there’s taxes on your winning, this will automatically be deducted upfront.
Open WiFi can incredibly be suspect-able to hacking, as it said IT IS OPEN. However most search engines like Goggle, Bing and others prevent use of open WiFi on their site. This is to further protect an individual from hackers.