The statement that you can’t cheat an honest man is one of the most ridiculous things ever uttered. Sure, it’s easier to trick someone who thinks that they’re taking advantage of you but that’s just one of many thousands of possible scenarios.
There are so many different tactics that scammers do to trick you. Some make ludicrous promises of wealth to lure you in and allow you to trick yourself. However, in the age of technology, getting scammed no longer requires you to make a conscientious choice. All it takes is for you to log in from an unsecured network or device, or follow a sketchy link, and there you have it.
While you can never be 100% safe from scammers, there are a few things you need to know to be safer in a digital environment. Here’s an ultimate guide on what you can do to protect yourself from scammers online.
Keep in mind that the majority of phishing scams look incredibly legit and official. The PDF in the attachment that “your bank” has sent you, will look authentic and even the form of the link may be right. However, if you follow the link in question and type in your info, you’re likely to get scammed. According to Better Business Bureau, FINRA, around 53% of all people scammers approach will engage, and that is the main problem.
There are a few principles you need to understand and the first one is that a bank official will never ask you for a PIN or a password via email. Such a thing is just not known to have happened. Moreover, you’ll likely get instructed on this by the institution itself. For instance, during one loading screen in World of Warcraft (a popular online video game), the tooltip is clearly stating that a Blizzard employee will never (ever) ask for your password.
In other words, be extra careful when you get these requests. Most importantly, be extra careful when updating your financial info online.
This is more difficult than you might have guessed. Modern chatbots are so sophisticated that it’s quite hard even for a skeptical human to pass a Turing test. Even if it is a human on the other end of the line, catfishing is a phenomenon that’s used by financial scammers almost as much as on the dating scene. In other words, schedule a live chat with the other person (preferably with a camera).
Keep in mind that just because you’re dealing with a human, this doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get scammed. However, it helps you figure out if the person on the other end of the line is using an AI-generated profile photo and digitally altering their voice. This alone is a great hint that you’re getting scammed.
Another thing you need to do is ensure that your antivirus is up to date. You see, an antivirus is like an insurance policy – it’s an investment that you’ll make hoping that you’ll never actually need it. Moreover, there’s nothing that feels more useless than a great antivirus. If it’s doing its job right, your devices never get infected, which makes you feel like you didn’t need it, to begin with.
While some free antivirus packages are incredibly effective, if you’re visiting too many sketchy sites (for business purposes), it might be worth your while to buy a premium plan. Also, an antivirus works passively in the background, however, you can also start a scan on your own, every once in a while. That, alongside a decent antimalware platform, may just be enough for the time being.
It’s very hard for hackers to access your desktop computer that’s sitting beneath your home office desk, and connected to the internet via ethernet cable. Sure, hackers can slip into your system even via the tiniest of cracks but they still need a sort of access point. However, what about your smartphone? It can be lifted from your pocket. You’re likely connecting it to various unsecured Wi-Fi. Also, chances are that you aren’t too mindful of what you download.
To protect your phone, you must first learn how to use a VPN, recognize scam-like apps, and add an extra verification method. Second, you need to know whether your phone is hacked or not. For instance, the fact that it’s working slower than usual, the battery is draining faster, and you’re locked out of your Apple ID or Google account might be clear indicators that there’s something foul at play.
Previously, we’ve talked about phishing, however, pharming is just as big of a threat. Once you click the link, you can be redirected to a different domain. If you’re not very careful, you might find yourself on a scam website. Now, keep in mind that this type of cognitive slip is quite simple. When you try to go to Facebook, do you always check if the URL is spelled right?
So, what if this happens to your bank site? You enter your password into the screen and the malicious third party on the other end sees exactly what it is. From this point on, they can just log into your account and use your account and user name (that you, yourself entered on their website). It’s quite devious in its simplicity.
Free Wi-Fi is a great thing. It’s one of the most important aspects of digital nomadism. Go to any coffee place and you’ll see at least one or two remote workers with laptops, performing their business via free Wi-Fi. In 2022, one of the first things that any review on GMB will say about the place is what kind of connection they have.
The problem is that all these people are using unsecured public Wi-Fi to access their business accounts – 62 percent of Wi-Fi-related security incidents occurred in cafés and coffee shops! Airport terminals and coffee shops have free Wi-Fi for convenience and entertainment but they are seriously lagging in the cybersecurity department. People who save their passwords on their accounts have it even worse. So, while it may seem counterintuitive, using your 3G or 4G network may be considerably safer.
Being offered a job without even applying for it doesn’t have to be that suspicious. After all, if you have a decent portfolio on LinkedIn, chances are that you’ll attract potential employers. However, getting offered a random job for a position that you’re not qualified for and having to pay “an advance fee” or make a deposit is incredibly suspicious.
You need to take this seriously. Sure, it sounds great but it’s not that far from the Nigerian Prince scam. Keep in mind that you need to look for logical consistency regarding any kind of offer. If something sounds too good to be true, chances are that it is. The thing about these advance fees is that you can see exactly how it could blow up in your face. In other words, you know exactly what’s at stake.
The last thing you need to understand is that there’s no fail-safe system and you always have to be on the lookout. Giving your password to the wrong person is always a risk and there’s no amount of verification steps and antivirus tools that can protect you from blunders of this type. So, the best piece of advice would be to stay as careful as you can.