How To – Avoid A Scam
It’s a known fact that in this digital age we live in, scam artists and hackers are a prominent threat whilst you’re working and searching online. The stereotype is that only certain types of people fall for scams and that just isn’t true. Anyone online or with a phone is susceptible to scams!
Scams can range from anything such as someone over the phone trying to gain personal details to someone online hacking your accounts. Either way it ends badly for us honest folks. What we aim to do with this ‘how to’ is keep you prepared and secure from any future scam attacks.
Phone scams tend to be from overseas companies trying to gain access to your personal information or bank details to take your hard earned money from you without a second thought. However just to make things even trickier, they are able to disguise their number so we can’t even see it coming.
To start with, if ever an ‘unknown’ number calls and asks for personal details, hang up! It’s likely to be a blocked number to prevent any traces back to the scam artist. The safest way to avoid these is to only answer calls with a given number on the screen.
Secondly, scam artists often attempt to sell a rouse that they are working for a company you use and trust. For instance ‘calling from the bank’ or stating that ‘your Microsoft/apple/sky account has been hacked into’ (any trusted, branded name could be used). You’ll often find if you state that you do not have an account with said company, they will hang up; this proves they were a scam!
They will then go on to state that they need to verify your personal details to secure your account, prove that you are not the hacker. They will then real off some scarily accurate information or merely ask questions about your personal situation (name, date of birth, address etc) before delving in to the part they’re really interested in… your bank details.
– DO NOT GIVE OUT ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE –
If you have not called the company directly, you cannot guarantee that the person over the phone is who they claim they are. It’s safest to just hang up and call the company directly. Often once you hang up, the scammer on the other line will not ring back, as they feel they have ‘been made’. The company can then confirm whether they have contacted you or not and verify if you have been victim to a scam. It’s better to be safe than sorry and so calling the company to have them state it was legitimate is safer than calling them later on to find it was not.
-MOST COMPANIES WILL NEVER ASK FOR YOUR DETAILS OVER THE PHONE-
The other type of scam artist works through emails and will again sell themselves as a trusted company claiming to have lost, or need to update, your personal information. The great thing with emails is, you don’t even have to open them. If you know you have not signed up to be on a mailing list, it’s very possible this email is a fraud and so it’s safest to, again, call the company asking whether the email is legitimate.
There were an increased number of fraudulent ‘Amazon’ emails sent out last year, claiming people had ordered something they hadn’t.
The customers would then contact the number on the email, be asked to verify their card details for a refund and find they were actually robbed on the spot. A big and trusted company will not ask for these details, especially since Amazon tends to have information saved (at customer’s request) and therefore will not need the verification.
Sometimes we all forget we ordered something online and are surprised when it arrives. But a real dispatch email would allow you to cancel the order without any fuss. And you can always send it back!
There is also the issue of chain emails that can be passed on from sender to sender containing a virus or computer bug that can hack into your hard-drive and cause all sorts of problems. They can access your email passwords, social media passwords and can find their way at saving your bank details to, once again, take your hard earned cash away. The best way to avoid this is set up a ‘junk mail’ system and avoid any emails you do not recognise the sender of.
– DO NOT OPEN AN EMAIL FROM AN UNKNOWN SENDER –
Luckily, this is something we can assist in. We specialise in computer repairs and virus protection, so should you feel your computer is not protected give us a call and we can get your devices protected in no time. We can also help in the removal of any viruses your computer may have picked up from roaming the internet over time. Installing a safe virus software, such as our recommended BitDefender, can ensure you are only visiting safe sites whilst online, as this is another way hackers spread viruses to your devices.
Scam artists are ever growing and ever updating their methods to steal from the honest, hard worker and so it’s important to keep yourself up to date and protected when going online. They pass on information about ‘gullible’ numbers, making you more susceptible to scams in the future. Don’t panic though as here are our top tips to avoid a scam artist:
- Never give out secure information over the phone – especially bank details!
- Do not open an email you don’t know the sender of
- Ensure your devices are protected and up to date
- Don’t give out your passwords to anyone – your emails and social media contains sensitive information
- Be wary of cold callers. If in doubt, hang up! (You can always apologise to a legitimate company later)