March Is Fraud Prevention Month: 10 Ways To Protect Yourself From Scammers
It’s an unfortunate fact that many people still get victimized by thieving crooks. These fraudsters often integrate old tricks and new technology to entice people to send personal information or their hard-earned cash.
You’ll never know when they’ll strike, but chances are you’ve already had a fair share of questionable posts on social media, fake online ads, ambiguous phone calls, and fraudulent emails. You got lucky if you’ve avoided one or two of these scammers, but don’t get too comfortable. Learn how to outsmart scammers using these ten tips below.
- Avoid Money Transfers
Unless you’re sure of the person’s identity, let’s say you’ve made arrangements with a family member or a close friend, don’t wire cash. Electronic transfers are really convenient but don’t go on sending money to people without confirming who they are first. Additionally, don’t send partial refunds from “secret shopper” or “overpayment” checks.
- Don’t be a Serial “Clicker”
You know those links in your inbox that don’t seem to have a purpose but demand you click them anyway? Do not click them.
Unsolicited links are a dime a dozen on social media these days, and sadly, a friend of yours might have “sent” it to you. Never trust the sender even if you know him/her personally. If you must click, confirm if it was intentional. While you’re waiting for a response, simply ignore the link.
- Get a Security Software
Anti-virus software has its uses, but it’s better to choose products that offer internet security, preferably ones that integrate with your current browser.
Make sure that your software is working properly by keeping it updated, so it automatically informs you of malware. When you receive a warning indicating that your device is infected, check the source. If it doesn’t come from the software you installed, ignore it. This might be a phishing scheme and could be the reason why you got your personal information exposed.
- Beware of Charity Scams
Money collectors aren’t confined to doorsteps anymore — they’re online as well. What’s worse is that not all of them are legit; some use charities to siphon money from you.
If you want to donate, do so personally, or give the charity or non-profit organization a call to confirm if the panhandler or collector is one of their own. If you spot collection boxes in stores, confirm if it’s genuine first before dropping cash in it. You don’t want your money wasted, do you?
- Allow Yourself to Think
Don’t be hasty when making decisions, no matter how enticing the offer is, or how persuasive an offer seems. Often, sales reps will insist you purchase something on the spot to acquire a discount but don’t fall for these tricks.
Remember that a genuine offer from a salesperson will give you time to think before you make a purchase. Although, there are those limited-time offers that pop up once in a while. If you’re really so into a product or service, confirm first. Don’t stress about it. It takes seconds to get a company’s contact information, so choose to spend time confirming the offer rather than falling into regrets later on.
- Take Care of Your Personal Info
Legitimate companies never ask for sensitive information unless you initiated it. Come to think of it; even online banking services don’t ask for your PIN upon logging in — you have an entirely different password. For online purchases, use established services like PayPal, debit or prepaid cards, or one-off credit card numbers. Also, check the address line for an “https.” If a website is without an “s,” avoid it.
- Avoid Buying from People You Don’t Know or Whose Credibility isn’t Verified
This one is a bit tricky, considering most transactions happen online these days. But it’s an undeniable fact that there a lot of questionable websites and online sellers. Good thing you can do a quick credibility check — simple Google search ought to do the job. Better yet, trust bigger sites whose names have been trusted for years now.
Should you choose lesser known sites, always seek references and get feedback from people who have bought from them.
- Avoid Paying for Something That Offers You Earning Opportunities
If you’re one of those people who prefer to seek job opportunities online, don’t spend money upfront. Your goal is to earn cash, so paying for it simply defeats the purpose. It’s not like you’re trying to invest in a business, wherein you’re expected to have a capital. Money-making opportunities online hire workers that they pay, not the other way around. Legit online work doesn’t ask you to pay for training supplies or kits. That’s just sketchy.
- Don’t Believe in Something Without Verification
Or don’t believe that someone is who they say they are unless you know them personally. You might receive a phone call or an email asking to visit your house, maybe to introduce you to a new product or do maintenance check-ups. Confirm their identity first before agreeing to the visitation.
Always ask for an identification card or any proof that they represent a legit company or important person. If they arrive at your doorstep without warning, don’t let them in. Remember that visitations from a company do a follow-up first, or a confirmation that you agree to see any of their representatives. They don’t just appear out of nowhere. This should be your first red flag.
- Always Ask What the Catch is
Offers too good to be true shouldn’t really exist. After all, everybody wants to earn, and they all have a motive. You might spot a bargain that’s hard to resist, but these offers are often bogus and cannot be trusted.
An exception, though, is if you know the seller well. A legit offer always has a catch. Do not be afraid to ask what this is. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Fraudsters are getting increasingly sophisticated and smarter in their attempts to get your personal information and money. It wouldn’t hurt to be extra vigilant instead of feeling sorry in the end.