You may think that the time for annoying phone scams and phishing scams is behind us, but the truth is, there are still hundreds of millions of dollars lost to these deceitful practices each year. Nowadays, people lose the most money through online purchase scams followed closely by fake tech support and employment scams. Phishing emails are still a popular technique to watch for in your email. The most successful scammers operate on social media or use a website. The best way to deal with scammers is to detect that the potential for fraud immediately and not engage. According to research conducted in 2019, researchers found that “prior knowledge of scams and fraud can reduce susceptibility”. The study included interviews with 1,408 consumers that submitted tips to the Better Business Bureau between 2015 and 2018. The median amount of losses reported to the BBB was $600. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself that range from learning how to prevent a scam to improving your computer’s security system. Obviously, we believe that Consumer Affinity provides a fantastic learning resource to educate people: Split®, a Social Community.
Some scams result in identity theft, and some have less dire consequences that include financial losses. Identity theft is more serious because it can take years and a lot of work to recover back; victims don’t just bounce back. Unfortunately, we are more exposed to identity theft con artists than we think. Online accounts we obtain hold a lot of personal information that can be misused. Our financial information and account information should remain ours alone but they’re not. Because of the numerous data and website breaches, scammers may have access to our personal details. Using those personal details, the person scamming us can add a level of authenticity to the scam that may push people over the edge into a state of victimization. Regardless of how terrifying a scam might look, you shouldn’t give in to a scammer’s demands.
Once you’ve detected the problem, make sure you report the scam. You can report a complaint to the FTC using their Complaint Assistant or call the FTC’s Consumer Response Center at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). You can file a complaint with the BBB using their Online Complaint System.
Telephone, Financial and Tech Support Scam
How do we best protect ourselves from being a victim of scams? There are a few ways you can jeopardize your card information. You may have lost your wallet, or your purse might get stolen. You could have typed your card information into an unsecured site while online shopping. You could have given sensitive information over the phone to someone pretending to be Microsoft IT support. Call scams like this tend to target the senior population, and have been known to use caller ID spoofing to cover their tracks. If you’ve been contacted and suspect that you may have given sensitive information, like your Social Security Number, personal details, or financial information, Microsoft has an in-depth plan on how to proceed.
The safest bet to avoiding tech support scams and other attempts at data breach is to not give away any information to unsolicited calls or emails. Posing as well known companies over the phone or email allows scammers to obtain the trust of their customers, but these companies simply do not contact their clients unless they’ve purchased or requested assistance. In other words, they don’t contact people without having a valid business reason.
Use Credit Bureau and Banking Tools
The next best way to prevent being scammed would be installing a fraud alert and request a credit freeze. There are many ways to mitigate the stolen identity crisis and reduce your losses to a minimum. Contact one of three credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit report, making the process of confirmation of your identity slightly more complex. While you’re doing that, you can also have them freeze your credit. Unlike a fraud alert, a freeze costs money to implement. The best way to not fall victim to a financial account scam is to frequently monitor your credit report, bank accounts, and credit card statements. You can also sign up for mobile banking alerts, which sends a text message to your device any time there is a change in your account. You can always use Consumer Affinity’s custom Credit Monitoring system Split® to view visual indicators to help you understand what’s happening to your credit score.
Malware and Security Systems
The final, equally important way to protect yourself online is to make use of common security tools and applications. You should install and use antimalware, antivirus software and password management applications on your computer and mobile devices. Security software is a good precautionary measure you can take since it helps provide an additional layer of security. You shouldn’t just rely on your own ability to recognize scams. Protect your online accounts from breach by using long and complex unique passwords. Make use of popup blockers, disable java, and use private browsing techniques. We mentioned in our previous article that you should also use a Multi-Factor Authentication device when possible. Many scam artists will covertly install malware that will give them the freedom to remotely access your computer. Popups and random offers will offer various legit sounding solutions, for example, running a “free” diagnostic test, but in reality, they may install malware. Fraud detection software will let you know when you might be under attack. You can also use software on your smartphone to protect against robo-dials, scams, and fraud via cellular service.
Seek Professional Help With Identity Protection
While there isn’t a single solution to help protect against all scams (many of which people unknowingly succumb to), there are certain software and identity protection services that do a remarkable job. You can learn how to recognize scams, fraud, and phishing attempts by reading posts and articles or by watching free videos designed to educate you. You can purchase a credit monitoring subscription and obtain email alerts related to your credit. Identity theft insurance, lost wallet, and identity restoration services are included in all subscriptions. Future features we’re building include a risk profiling tool and breach monitoring.
Some Advice To Take Seriously
The takeaway from this article should be that scammers lurk in nearly every corner. Even if you are fully protected with online security, the threat can come through simpler, very bizarre channels. There are tax return scams, gift card offerings, fake check scams, and even ones that target health insurance. Too much of your information in the wrong hands could lead to years of headache, paranoia, and even legal battles in some cases. Don’t fall for emails promising a huge payout for a small investment. If you send money online, make sure that it’s only to confirmed institutions or people you know personally. Don’t get sucked into a scam by providing your information to claim a coupon or a gift card online. If an offer is looking too good to be true, then it probably is. If a person on the phone is putting pressure on you to provide more information or accept their offer, don’t fall for it.
Walking into the 21st century, technology became the main industry that is still growing and improving our lives every day. However, in the same way it made life easier, it also created paths for people to deceive, take advantage, and defraud other people. Make sure to use technology cautiously and always have proper security software installed in order to avoid various crafty scams.