It’s International Fraud Awareness Week, so to help raise awareness here are some common scams out there.
Being asked to “verify your identity”
This one can come in many forms. A phone call, an email, or even a knock on the door from a trusted company (e.g. power company) who needs to talk about your account, but before they can, they just need you to confirm your personal information.
Before you answer, stop and think: is it possible this person is impersonating the company?
How to avoid: If you’re unsure, politely decline (or in the case of email, ignore), then call the company’s call centre line directly. Do not call them on any other number, especially one the potential scammer provides you.
Phishing is the “attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.”
A very common scam is sending emails either with promises of wealth or impersonating legitimate companies.
Most email providers are able to block spam, however some can still get through.
How to avoid: Do not open emails, download files, or click links from untrusted sources or companies. Google their name to see if there is any information about them.
If it is from a company you are a customer of, but looks a bit suspicious, call the company directly to find out.
And never, ever provide your passwords or other sensitive information to anyone.
Found a USB on the ground and want to find its owner/see if there’s anything juicy on it?
A surprisingly common scam is to load a USB with malware and drop them near offices in the hopes that an employee will take it inside and inadvertently infect the corporate network.
How to avoid: Pass on found USBs to your company’s IT/internet security department.
Using fake images, romance scams use dating sites and apps to approach people looking for love, only to ask them to send money.
How to avoid: First of all, determine if they are real.A simple reverse image search on Google should let you know if someone is real or not. Here’s NetSafe detailing how to do it.
Secondly, never send money to people you have not met in real life.
Friend asking for cash
We should all know that when a Nigerian prince sends an email asking for money, it’s a scam. But what about when it’s a friend? They wouldn’t trick you like that.
What you may be forgetting is that social media makes it really easy for scammers to get the names of your friends and impersonate them, possibly complete with a fake Facebook page.
How to avoid: Even if your friend is really asking for money, never give out money without talking to your friend in person or on the phone first.
Quite a common one recently, is an email being sent with an attached overdue invoice that needs to be paid.
No one likes to stiff their contractors so it may seem normal to organise payment asap. But do you actually know what the invoice is for?
How to avoid: If you do not know what an invoice you’ve received is for, don’t open any attachments (including the invoice) or click any links. Google the company requesting payment to see if they are legitimate.
Remember: Prevention is better than cure
- Never write down or give your PIN number or online banking credentials to anyone
- Regularly check your account balances
- Never click on an email links from an unknown sender
Be aware that there are plenty more types of online scams out there, so to ensure you know the enemy, check out independent watchdog NetSafe.