6 Ways To Protect Yourself From Getting Scammed

Flickr Steven Depolo
Flickr Steven Depolo

If they’re not trying to make you spend ridiculous amounts of money on technology, gadgets and other miscellaneous goods, they’re robbing you of your hard-earned cash right in front of your eyes. Who are they? They are marketers, advertisements on TV, salespeople and anyone else in the business of selling you things you probably don’t need. How are they robbing you right in front of your eyes? Through scams.

What are scams?
According to The Business Dictionary, something very serious, i.e., “a fraudulent scheme performed by a dishonest individual, group, or company in an attempt obtain money or something else of value.” The worst part about them is how they have evolved thanks to the advent of the Internet and other technological advances. Individuals or companies that engage in such callous behavior pretend to have a skill or authority in the three most important parts of life, namely, health, money, and law. Think questionable doctor, foxy lawyer, and too good to be true investor.

So is all hope lost? Not if you read the following 6 scams and ways to spot the scam before it gets you.

1. Spam emails

What are they?
Basically, unsolicited emails from a person or groups of people that are trying to get your personal information for malicious intentions.

“You have won $1,000,000. Please provide your banking details to gain access to it. Hurry, as you only have 24 hours to do so before the account is frozen.” At some point in your life, you may have received an email that stated something similar. If you’re from Africa, you’re usually told your distant relative six times removed has left you an inheritance in an account that can’t be accessed without your banking details. Whatever the case may be, there is no relative, no benefactor/beneficiary, and certainly no money.

How can you protect yourself?
Most email accounts have spam filters and allow you to filter and ban email addresses that reek of spam material. Gmail is one of the best mail apps at monitoring and filtering spam, so create an account with them if you can. Also, let the experts deal with it. Inform them of spam accounts and leave the rest to them.

2. Phishing

What is it?
No, it’s not a fancy type of fishing. It’s actually a cunning way fraudsters try to access your personal information, such as banking details, usernames, and passwords under the false pretence of a legitimate company.

How can you protect yourself?
Make sure that the email you have received is from a trustworthy source.

Check spelling, grammar and whether links match up WITHOUT clicking on them.

You will NEVER be asked for your pin, password, or banking details over the phone or in an email.

Do not open the offensive email; report it to your bank as soon as possible.

Be sure to visit the bank in person if you are suspicious of any fraudulent activity on your account.

3. Spam calls

What are they?
Phone calls from unsolicited people or companies who try to get you to give personal information like usernames, banking details and passwords.

How can you protect yourself?
Again, like phishing and spam emails, one must be on the alert. A legitimate bank or law firm will not ask for your login details or personal details over the phone, in an email or in person.

Do not entertain the person on the phone and end the call as soon as possible.

Make a note of the number and report it to either your bank or the police.

Block the number and follow up on the case with the authorities.

4. Identity theft

What is it?
This happens when someone steals another person’s identity in order to gain access to the victim’s finances, granting them certain benefits and is generally to the victim’s detriment.

How can you protect yourself?
There are many tips to prevent identity theft, read some of the best 100 tips to prevent identity theft. Here are some of them:

Be sure to collect and read all your mail.

Be very careful about how you dispose of your banking information.

Keep your pins, security numbers and other personal information closely guarded.

Check your bank statements thoroughly and report and suspicious behaviour promptly.

Shred all and any documents with sensitive information; tearing apart is just no good anymore.

5. Weak passwords

What are they?
A password is a secret combination of characters that allows you to access something. Passwords are very important because we need them to access our banking, our shopping, apps and other important, sensitive information. Therefore, a weak password is one that is very easy to guess and can make it much easier for your accounts to be targeted by scammers.

How can you protect yourself?
Because passwords can sometimes be a matter of life and death, it is important that you choose strong passwords.

Don’t choose the most used password in the world, namely, “12345” for banking.

Also, don’t use the same password across all platforms.

Be sure to use small letters, capital letters, numbers and special characters

Change your password often and make sure it is hard to guess.

6. Get-rich-quick schemes

What are they?
These are basically plans that promise to make you extremely rich over a short period of time. For example, “pay $400 now and make $2000 in two months by buying into this scheme.” The person/company gain access to your money and you never hear from them again. Sound all too familiar?

How can you protect yourself?
There are a number of ways you can do this.

Do background checks on the person/company. Google is amazing at this.

Look up negative reviews about the scheme.

Educate yourself on what to look out for when it comes to get rich quick schemes.

There you have it. Six forms of scam to look out for and how to protect yourself from getting taken by one of them. Educate yourself on the abovementioned scams. Get help if you need it and don’t hesitate to contact the authorities when you have suspicions. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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