It can be hard to avoid being scammed. 1n 2020 50,176 fraud reports were reported globally. The highest number of these are for online shopping. 78% of US companies have experienced social media phishing attacks. Fraud is estimated to have cost consumers and businesses a huge $1.9 billion in 2020.
Scammers target people in all sorts of ways, from telephone calls, emails, knocking at your door, approaching you in the street. You could even be a victim of cheque fraud, which despite the penalty for cashing a stolen check being 6 months in prison, still happens regularly.
How to avoid being scammed
1. Never Share passwords
It’s important to remember that legitimate companies including your bank will never ask you for passwords or pin numbers, so quite simply don’t give them out.
2. Do not share personal details
It can seem obvious to say don’t share personal information such as your date of birth, bank details and address, but there are less obvious things to be aware of too. When talking to a stranger, especially when it’s a cold call, avoid giving any personal information. This includes things such as going on holiday, your medical needs, financial issues, and so on. Fraudsters will use any piece of information you give them to target you.
3. Ask for proof of who they are
If you are in doubt that someone is who they say they are, check. Ask them for a number you can call them back on to verify their identity. Legitimate companies will not have a problem doing this, and their numbers will be online for you to check. Be especially wary of a ‘bank’ giving you a mobile number to call.
4. Do not click links
Email frauds are sophisticated and can be difficult to spot. You should check the email address that it is sent from. Importantly legitimate emails will ask you to log into your account to sort any issues. If an email is asking you to do something by clicking on a link, then it is highly likely to be fraud. Do not click the link.
5. Be wary of time critical problems normally need money to solve
The easiest way fraudsters scam people is by creating a problem that is time-critical. For example, someone has been using your credit card and you need to transfer your money to a safe account immediately. Or your broadband is being cut off and you need to pay now to avoid this, which will, of course, be refunded if you do have sufficient funds (of course you have sufficient funds, and no it won’t be refunded). If there is a time-critical problem, alarm bells should be ringing that this could be a scam.
6. Check company details before purchasing
Scams are rife on social media. We see a great product and click to purchase. We trust social media. It’s where our friends are. But it’s the simplest way to be scammed. You pay for goods. They never arrive. And you can’t get hold of anyone to get a refund. It’s always worth a quick bit of research to see if the business is legitimate.
7. If it sounds dodgy or too good to be true…
… It probably is!