How to Protect Yourself from Scams
Scammers are always trying to con victims out of their information and money – and unfortunately, they’re often successful.
They’re expert impersonators, using sophisticated technology and their best acting skills to convince you they represent a business, institution or government agency you may trust. They also tend to prey on the most susceptible victims, including the elderly, people who are down on their luck and even job seekers.
Anyone demanding odd forms of payment, pressuring you to “act now!” or demanding personal info up front is likely a scammer.
To help keep you safe, here are some ways to recognize and protect yourself from scams.
Five ways to spot a scammer
- They ask for detailed information before agreeing to process an application.
- They insist on a specific method of payment.
- They send a check for an inflated amount to a seller or “employee,” and then ask the victim to mail them the extra money. Of course, the original check will not clear.
- You can’t find any information about the company the caller allegedly represents.
- You’re pressured to act now.
These are some of the most common scams:
Cyberhacking. Hackers gain remote access to your computer and personal information.
Phishing scams. Scammers bait you into sharing personal information, which they use to hack your accounts or steal your identity.
Mystery shopper. A bogus company will “hire” you to purchase an item in a store and then report back on the experience. Before you get started, though, you’ll have to pay a hefty fee, which you’ll never see again.
Job offers. Scammers “hire” you for a position and then scam you by sending you an inflated check, as detailed above.
Sweetheart scams. A scammer pretending to be an online love interest will con you into sending them money and gifts or sharing personal information.
Fraudulent investments. Scammers reach out to victims with information about lucrative investments that don’t exist.
10 ways to protect yourself from scams
- Never share personal information online.
- Don’t open unsolicited emails. If you do, don’t click on any links in them.
- Never send money to an unknown party, especially if they overpay and ask you to send back the difference.
- Protect your devices by using the most current operating systems, choosing two-factor authentication and using strong, unique passwords for every account.
- Choose the strongest privacy settings for your social media accounts.
- Keep yourself in the know about the latest scams.
- Educate your kids about basic computer safety and privacy.
- If you have elderly parents, talk to them about common scams and teach them to protect themselves.
- If a government agency or a company calls and asks you to share personal information, tell them you’ll contact them on your own.
- Never accept a job or pay for a purchase or service without researching the company involved.
Your Turn: How do you keep yourself safe from scams? Share your best tips with us in the comments.