Technology has made everyone’s lives easier, including criminals. From identity theft to online scams, every year, criminals find new ways to use technology and the internet to commit fraudulent acts. These acts are designed to separate you from your hard-earned dollars. Although fraudsters might seem to have the upper hand, there are ways to avoid online financial scams. Here are some of the most common ways these swindlers will try to take your money.
“I Need Money”
If you have email, chances are you’ve already received a message from a stranger pleading for you to send them money. There are all kinds of scammers out there coming up with new sob stories to try to get innocent, well-meaning people to help them in their desperate situation. From people being deserted at an airport in a strange land to the old wealthy Nigerian prince who offers you plenty of money to help them; it’s just common sense to never wire a stranger money.
No matter what someone tells you, if you don’t know them, don’t fall for this scam. In fact, unless someone you actually know contacts you directly via phone, transferring money via any form of electronic message is not a good idea. This is because cybercriminals know how to hack accounts from email to social media and everything in between. Americans have lost millions due to these scams, and you don’t want to add money to that pot.
“I Need Your Information”
Next on the list is an attempt to get your financial information. This one can be a little more unnerving as the scammer will often represent themselves in a position of authority with a financial institution you actually trust. The scam begins with communication via phone, text or email. They claim to be from legitimate businesses such as banks, insurance companies, retailers or the IRS. Their goal is to get you to share valuable information under the premise that there’s an issue with your account, your last purchase or money you might owe. These claims are made so they can get your credit card number, Social Security number or other financial information.
This is known as “phishing.” Just know that none of these institutions or businesses will ever have to confirm such information. To be safe, never share any forms of information with people making such requests. If you are worried something really is at risk, contact the company or organization claiming to have the issue to confirm there is nothing wrong.
“Open My Attachment”
Cybercriminals will often email you “urgent” information sending either a link or an attachment they want you to click or open. Once you do this, you might be asked to provide them with information. Again, this type of email is not the way legitimate businesses or institutions will communicate with you. Never click links or download attachments from unknown sources. Even more importantly, never respond with information about your finances or personal information. Delete the email immediately. If your email provider allows it, mark it as spam so they can trace it and try to block the user from contacting you again.
“I Need Your Password”
This little trick often comes by way of a phone call with someone claiming there is an issue with one of your accounts. This can be any account you might have from social media to online banking. They will say they need your password to correct an issue. Then they will access your account to steal valuable information or access your finances to use them for sinister purposes. Never provide your password to anyone. If there is a legitimate issue, these companies have ways to access your account safely using their security systems.
“Click Here for Your Prize”
Pop-up windows are often used by criminals to hijack your web search. They misguide users into thinking they are entering the website they are trying to reach. They can appear on legitimate sites because criminals have ways of waylaying your searches and activity. When this happens, it will often be something that tells you that you’ve won a prize or you can enter a contest. Never click on pop-ups or download software even if the pop-up is claiming your computer is at risk. It sure is at risk, because these scammers are trying to get you to click on a link or download malware. They can then use it to either damage your system or scan it for personal information.
Criminals will always find new ways to take advantage of people.The best way to defend yourself is to recognize financial scams and avoid them.