How to recognise and avoid scams
Technology has improved our lives in many ways. But, cybercriminals and scammers can also take advantage of this technology to trick and defraud us. We have prepared this blog to inform and assist you to recognise and avoid scams.
Scammers now use the latest technology which makes them almost undetectable. The scammers take advantage and attempt to find weak points of your online activities (including electronic fund transfers).
When something is too good to be true, it often is; so take the necessary preventive measures and ask the experts. Please do not be ashamed or embarrassed if you think you have been scammed. Statistics show that nearly all of us have scammed online at some point.
Scammers improve their techniques every day and even make the experts doubt themselves, some scams are sophisticated, well-designed and almost undetectable.
Scammers prey on people’s good intentions and kind hearts. As Australians, we are often generous and it can be natural for us to want to help people. Stay tuned and read carefully to discover how to recognise and avoid scams.
1. Access to personal data
I am sure that if a stranger asked you for your credit card details or personal information, you would most likely not provide this information.
Therefore scammers have to find ways to trick you to get this information. I know what are you thinking. How criminals do it?
Let me explain some common methods for you…
Hacking: This happens when a scammer obtains access to your private information by using technology that can compromise digital devices, like computers, tablets, smartphones, and even entire computer networks.
Identity theft: This is when someone uses your personal information data such as your name, drivers licence number and date of birth and use this to sign up for a service pretending to be you.
Usually, offenders collect identification data to steal money or gain other benefits by pretending to be someone else. You may not even be aware that this has happened.
Phishing scams: This technique tricks you into sharing your confidential information by making you believe that you are on a genuine trusted website when in fact you are on a fake copy of the website without realising it.
This technique is often used for creating fake websites for banks, insurance companies, government organisations or other websites that require you to log in and/or enter credit card information.
They then record your username and password and use these to log in to the real websites themselves and access your account, accessing your financial information or downloading malware.
Remote access or technical support scams: Scammers contact you by phone pretending to offer technical support for your computer. They ask permission for them to remotely access your computer but in truth they use this access to steal information and potentially access your bank accounts.
Also, scammers can try to convince you that you have a network or internet problem and you must buy new software to fix the problem. The software contains malware that managed to spy on your activity, collect information and access bank accounts.
How do I recognise and avoid personal data scams?
– Choose a password that is difficult to guess, and never save your passwords on your computer.
– Avoid using public computers or WiFi hotspots and keep your computer virus protection up to date with the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
– Before you enter private information or payment details online, make sure the website is secure.
– Check for a URL starting with ‘https’ and the closed padlock symbol, or use a reputable payment provider such as PayPal
– Never click on links, emails or social media messages you have received from strangers and do not open the attachments – just delete them.
– Keep your profile private on social networks. Scammers can use your data and images shared online to create a fake identity.
– Read the news and stay informed to recognise and avoid scams as there are always new fraud methods and scams.
2. Online buying or selling scams
Classified scams: The scammer impersonates a legitimate contact from an authorised online site to trick the buyer.
Fake billing: The scammer asks you or your business to pay fake bills for services you did not request.
Online shopping scams: This occurs through a fake website or a fake ad on a recognised site. Scammers pretend to be legitimate sellers.
Overpayment scams: If you are selling something online the scammer will contact you and make a payment for a higher amount. (With a fake check or a stolen credit card they made the payment). The scammer then cancels the purchase requests a ‘refund’ of the overpaid money.
Psychic and clairvoyant scams: Scammers guarantee good health, wealth, removal of bad luck or promise of great fortunes. Each of these promises has an attached fee. They are great at telling people exactly what they want to hear in order to get your money.
How do I recognise and avoid online buying or selling scams?
– Buy from well-known websites and check if the site or social media page has a refund or returns policy.
– Use safe payment platforms you are familiar with and avoid any arrangement with a stranger if they ask for up-front payment with an unusual payment method.
– If you get an overpayment from a credit card only agree to refund it back onto the same credit card.
I know that’s a lot to take in, but bear with me
Can you spot a scam?
Some people believe they would never fall victim to a scam. Most importantly they feel confident and believe they can recognise when something is a scam. Think you can spot a scam? Watch the video below.
3. Investment scams
Betting and sports scams: These scams claim to have fake systems and software which they say is ‘infallible’ and can predict betting and sports outcomes. They guarantee benefits in sporting events and look for victims to invest.
Investment scams: Scammers have invented many types of fake money-making ideas. Investment scams promise a unique financial opportunity, to sum up, they take your money but never deliver.
How do I recognise and avoid investment scams?
– If you receive a random call from someone for an investment opportunity or prediction software – hang up!
– Do not let any person force you into making decisions about money or investments.
– Be sceptical of investment possibilities with a high return with small or no risk.
– Remember, do not believe it when something seems too good to be true.
4. Dating & romance scams
Dating sites and apps are very popular and with so many people finding their life partner online, it’s now common to use online dating services to meet someone.
Romance scams create fake profiles by adjusting them to the victim’s interests. They use dating sites or seek contact through the popular social networks, Facebook, Instagram.
Romance scammers deliberately target lonely or depressed victims. sometimes taking months or even years to build their trust. Many scammers talking or chatting many times a day with their victims. Eventually, they invent a story where they need help and ask for money or support.
Warning signs if an online love interest asks you for:
– Money for an aeroplane ticket or other travel expenses, visa or other official travel documents.
– Payment for surgery for example medical expenses for them or another family member.
– To cover expenses to retrieve something or just receive something and then send it to another address.
Here’s what may happen next…
– Travel promises are always interrupted by some unforeseen circumstances. For example (work, family problems, illness, need for more money for other expenses including payment of officials).
– The scammer will keep asking for money until the victim gets tired or their money transfer account is flagged or blocked. Eventually, the scammer’s profile will disappear.
– In some cases, they will use the personal information provided to harass or even blackmail the victim.
How to protect yourself from dating and romance scams
– Be careful when sharing personal information, pictures or videos with people online, especially if you have never met them.
– Talk to your friends and family if something seems suspicious.
– Be cautious of requests for money and never transfer money on behalf of someone else.
– Try to remove the emotion from your decisions and act objectively and with a rational mind.
– Remember, romance scams are one of the most common types of scams in Australia.
5. Fake charities
Unfortunately, some charities have turned out to be scams. Scammers mimic genuine charities, ask for donations or contact you pretending to collect funds for children or for relief efforts after natural disasters.
There are some unscrupulous people and organisations, so it’s essential to always do your research before donating. There are also many genuine and helpful charities so please also keep this in mind too.
For tips that may help you decide about what charity to donate to, read our blog 9 African Charities to Donate to from Australia.
6. Jobs & employment scams
Jobs and employment scams: The scammer offers you a job with a guaranteed income with little effort, qualification or knowledge. You will usually be required to pay for a “starter kit” or other materials to get the job only to learn that there is no real job in the first place.
Another type of job and employment scam may involve the scammer asking you to receive money and then transfer this money to another person, business or to a foreign company with the promise of paying a commission.
This type of scam is known as money laundering and is a serious criminal offence with severe penalties including jail time. Even if the amounts are small, it is still a criminal offence.
Pyramid schemes: These schemes typically involve the primary income of a job coming from recruiting other people to participate in the scheme and not from the sale of a service or product. These schemes are illegal in some countries.
If the offer comes with promises to make a lot of money quickly by recruiting more people, it is highly likely it is a pyramid scheme.
7. Threats & extortion scams
Malware tricks: Vulnerable computers are infected by a computer virus, which locks the computer and files and demand payment (a ransom) for their release.
Often these scams require you pay in Bitcoins which are difficult to track. These scams are sometimes also called ransomware or malware (short for malicious software).
Threats to life: This scam is designed to scare you and pressure you into paying immediately without contacting anyone, including the police. The scammer may call you and pressure. Making up a story, for example, they were hired by someone else to kill you or a family member, and they won’t do it if you cooperate.
8. Unexpected money scams
Nigerian scams: There are a few variations of this type of scam also known as 419 Fraud (these scams violate section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, hence the label 419 Fraud) or an advance fee scam. Originating from Nigeria, these scams now come from all over the world.
The scammer convinces the victim to pay a sum of money in advance to access a multi-million dollar fortune trapped in a bank account. The scammer may provide a range of genuine looking documents to prove their authenticity.
Inheritance scams: As the name suggests and similar to the advance fee scam above, these scams ask you to pay a fee to access a multi-million dollar inheritance from someone you don’t know.
Unexpected winnings: These scams work by asking you to transfer some kind of fee in order to claim your prize or winnings from a competition, lottery or journey you never entered.
Do not be a Victim to Scams
Rocket Remit knows that sending money overseas is essential for many people. Unfortunately, online criminals can target vulnerable people in Australia and convince them to send them money abroad.
It is up to you to protect yourself against scams. Visit our Online Safety page for tips and information.
At Rocket Remit, we are working to make sure our consumers know how to Recognise and Avoid scams and how they can protect themselves.
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