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Keeping you and your loved ones safe from online scams

Tips and Tricks to keep you safe

Safe Online Scams

Online scams are becoming increasingly common, with catfishing alone costing Americans $201 million in recent years. While it may not be possible to achieve total security, educating yourself on the telltale signs of a scam is more important than ever. Modern scammers target their victims on every communications platform from email to mobile phones.

How to spot a scam

The first step to protecting you and your loved ones from scams is being able to recognize their many forms. Scams usually play on our emotions by promising rewards that are too good to be true or making threats. Instilling a sense of urgency is a key part of many scams. These criminals will aim to convince you to part with your money or personal information before you have time to detect the scam. This is often done by masquerading as an official government organization such as the IRS and threatening legal action should you refuse to comply.

The vast majority of communications from scammers will be unsolicited. As such, communications requesting money, and notifying you of unexpected charges or promising rewards should be seen as highly suspicious. However, not all scams are initiated by the scammer. Online dating is rife with catfishing, a scam where the criminal will assume a fake name and persona, convincing victims to send them money under the pretense of romance. As online dating increasingly becomes the norm, users of these platforms must be aware of the potential risks. Tech support scams have been one of the most nefarious and successful criminal enterprises over the last few decades with call centers making millions of dollars each year from mostly elderly victims. These scams usually originate from popup ads or viruses claiming that your operating system has detected an issue that must be resolved. These popups usually point to a phone number claiming to be official tech support. In reality, the phone will be picked up by a scammer in a fraudulent call center whose task will be to convince the victim to hand over money in exchange for removing the non-existent virus.

Protecting you and your loved ones

Children and the elderly are most susceptible to scammers and as such are usually their targets. Unlike children, however, it is difficult if not unreasonable to keep an eye on your elderly loved ones. Instead, the best way to protect them is to teach them to protect themselves the way you do, with a few simple rules. Scammers usually look for personal information and bank details. Ensure that they know not to share this information online and to spot strange or unorthodox payment methods such as gift cards. Many scams mimic official government or company websites and emails to lull victims into a false sense of security. Make a habit of double-checking URLs and email addresses before clicking on the contents. If something looks too good to be true then almost invariably it will be a scam. Checking for these signs and avoiding shady websites and downloads will go a long way towards ensuring your safety online.

The world s increasing digitization over the last few years has led to online scams becoming more prevalent than ever. It s difficult to protect yourself on the internet but for those of us who are educated on scams, our greatest worry may be for family members and loved ones. In this case, learning the rules ourselves and passing them on is critical to keeping them safe.

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