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Your Money: How to keep yourself safe from online scammers

Pensioner holding a bank card in his hand

Online scams are on the rise so here’s a few tips on how to stay safe on your devices.

Email scams

These are among the most common techniques employed by fraudsters. You may receive an email offering a sum of money in return for helping someone to move their money to another account, or overseas. These phishing emails are designed to trick you into revealing personal information or passwords, and pharming emails lead you to a convincing website in order to access your information.

Watch you're not an easy catch for the online fraudsters.
Watch you’re not an easy catch for the online fraudsters.

Never click on links or open attachments from an unsolicited email and be sure to check if the sender’s email address matches the website address of the organisation it says it’s from. Be wary if the email addresses you in the general sense, such as “Dear customer” and avoid emails with a sense of urgency, asking you to act immediately. Beware of emails with poor grammar and spelling mistakes, and never share personally identifiable information, including banking and credit card information, your birth date, and insurance numbers. To protect yourself from any malware, regularly update your devices with antivirus software.

Online dating scams

These can occur through online dating websites, but can also be initiated via social media or email. Scammers may express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time and suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email, or instant messaging. Once they’ve gained your trust, they might ask for money and gifts, even your banking or credit card details.

Think twice when sending money to someone you’ve never met in person. Some key ways to spot a scammer is if their internet dating profile or social media page are not consistent with what they tell you, or they ask for money, gifts, or the details of your bank account or credit card details.

Shopping scams

If you spot a great online offer which is too good to be true, it probably is.

Make sure the website has “https” in the URL (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Even then, the site could be unreliable. Read reviews about the quality of the merchandise, and make sure you’re not buying cheap and/or counterfeit goods.

Scammers use sophisticated methods for parting you from your cash.

Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods and services. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in but some payment methods do not. Be wary of free trial offers. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognise.

Impersonation scams

To uphold your privacy and online security, protect your social media accounts as you would your banking or email account.

To avoid Facebook impersonation scams, do not accept friend requests from strangers or share your password with others. When logging in, use two-factor authentication and avoid connecting to public and free Wi-Fi networks. Keep your browser and apps updated, and for an additional layer of security use proactive cybersecurity software.

Scams on rife on social media these days.
Scams on rife on social media these days.

Money flipping scams are increasing on social media, where profiles show luxury goods with the promise to deposit money into an account. The scammer may pose as a bank or luxury retailer, and talk about investment opportunities. Social media is a popular medium for these types of scams, especially on platforms with the ability to direct message people who aren’t mutual followers.

The above tips are from Karen Jordaan, head of UK at global digital payments company WorldRemit.

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