A scam is a fraudulent scheme. It is a con, a trick, and a hustle, designed to deceive consumers for financial gain. Generally, a scammer reaches out to potential victims in the guise of a Social Security administrator, an IRS officer, or someone from Medicare. They may also pretend to be business representatives or charity collectors, and put pressure on victims to deposit money to get out of trouble or to receive their gift cards, etc.
Now that more and more people are accessing the web, scammers are inventing new ways to trap vulnerable users and extract money out of them. In this regard, internet service providers are handing out top-notch security shields as part of their plans to protect customers from internet fraud. RCN internet plans are quite popular as they offer special security suites from eero Secure+ and McAfee® to safeguard sensitive user information from the get-go.
Nevertheless, on its own, the security software is not enough to protect you and your family from all forms of fraud, which can go beyond the bounds of the internet. You have to exercise caution and implement the following tips and tricks to avoid scams in the digital age. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the anti-fraud measures backed by FTC and security experts:
Steer Clear of Sensational Deals
When something sounds too good to be true on the internet, it usually is. A “miraculous solution to your problems” is the oldest trick in the book of scammers. This is how they have always trapped people, right from the rudimentary beginnings of the market down to the digital age of today. So, how can you avoid such scams?
- Don’t fall for over-cheap pricing. Though the word “free” attracts buyers like flies to honey, it may be nothing more than a deception. Match the price with the value of the product or service, and shop accordingly.
- Be realistic in assessing. You may come across phony health insurance plans, faulty coronavirus test kits, fake cures, and whatnot online. No matter how pressing your need is, stay far away from these scams.
- Avoid giving in to the “limited-time” bulk deals. Scammers employ the factors of urgency and scarcity to sweeten their deals. Use utmost discretion and keep scrolling when you face bulk sales on the stock.
- Be wary of direct-contact sellers. Always shop from a verified and legitimate business website or social media page. Scammers may try to win your attention and peddle their schemes via direct DMs and SMS texts. Block them instantly.
Let Unknown Callers Go to Voicemail
Phone calls are rare these days with chat messengers and other smart apps taking over the world. Still, a major chunk of consumers, especially older adults, continue to keep a landline at home. Scammers don’t leave out this opportunity either and orchestrate phone call scams with fake numbers and impersonations. They may spoof your Caller ID with robocalls to induce you to pick up the call. Once you do, they may pose as someone from your bank or insurance company and coax you into revealing your confidential financial data for their personal gain, typically by accelerating your worries. How can avoid these phone scams?
- Don’t pick up calls from an unknown number. Let it go to voicemail. You can later listen to the recording and see if it’s from a friend or a scammer posing as a telemarketer.
- Set up spam filters on your phone. The filtration feature will automatically send the robocalls and suspicious numbers to auto-block, thus saving you from becoming prey to frauds.
Keep an Eye Out for Email Red Flags
Scammers target users via email in nine out of ten cases. Why? Because a majority of users interact without a second thought on email, presuming it to be a safe medium of communication. It is also easy to pose as an authority figure or a reputable business on email and dupe innocent users. So, how can you sniff an email fraud from a mile away?
- Think critically when you open your emails. If an email offers fantastic news like “Congratulations, you’ve won $1,000” in a lottery you never participated in or gives a warning like “Beware, your account has been hacked,” it may be a scam.
- Inspect the sender’s information. Who sent the email? Crosscheck the credentials with the impersonated authority’s actual website. Call the respective business organization from your phone to see if it’s really them.
- Evaluate the body of the email. Does it have grammatical or punctuation errors? Does it ask you to click on a link and if so, where does the link lead to? You can hover on the URL to determine that. If the email seems shady, report it to FTC and they’ll tackle the scammer.
- Enable the spam filter on your email account. A spam filter will automatically flag suspicious-looking emails and keep them away from your inbox. Don’t ignore the red flags and always trust your instincts.
Ignore Bogus Pop-Up Security Warnings
You may receive pop-up notifications on your browser or computer while surfing the web that may warn you about malware contamination in your device. Once you click on such a pop-up, it may lead you to a website that persuades you to download a security program free of cost or by paying a minimal amount. The purpose of this scam is to play on the paranoia and fears of digital users who may not know better. By downloading such a rogue program, you may invite the said malware into your perfectly fine system or get swindled for your money by a scammer.
Therefore, always make sure to protect your connected devices with credible antivirus software like the one provided by your internet company, so it can safeguard you against intrusive pop-up warnings and bogus notifications hiding a scam.
Identify Imposter Brands on E-Marketplaces
Who doesn’t shop online, nowadays? E-marketplaces like Amazon have become buzzworthy hotspots. Online shopping saves time, money and energy, and is a blessing for modern consumers. This is why scammers target online shoppers by setting up fake shops and promoting imposter brands on e-marketplaces. It is up to you to identify these traps and avoid them as much as you can. Before initiating a transaction with any of these duplicitous sellers:
- Read customer reviews about the products, which should sound “human” and not automatically generated.
- Zoom into the product images, which should be originally captured and not taken from stock.
- Verify the source of the photos to know for sure. Spot these fake brands and prevent yourself from falling victim to shopping fraud.
The Bottom Line
Whether online or on a phone call, you may come face to face with a fraudster. Add the aforementioned tips to your arsenal to not only avoid a scam but to report it and save others from it.