Scams are getting more and more sophisticated, especially when it comes to scams that target you online and through mobile devices. This guide will look at how you can recognise a scam and how to protect yourself and your business.
How To Protect Yourself Against Scans
The first step to avoiding scams is to know how to protect yourself. Some of these are good advice in general and will keep you safe online.
- Avoid any unexpected contact. Ignore phone calls, letters, emails, or people knocking at the door that you aren’t expecting. As Family Orbit is explaining in its blog post, you can track unknown numbers to see who is trying to call.
- Never give out your personal information. These details can be used to steal your identity and access your accounts.
- Keep operating system and virus protection software up-to-date. Never ignore these updates as these often include patches to protect against new kinds of scams, viruses, and ransomware. The same rule applies to your mobile devices too.
- Make sure that all of your accounts have a strong password. Change your passwords regularly and don’t use the same password for everything.
- Don’t make any advanced payments unless you are sure the company you’re paying is legitimate.
- Use safe and secure WiFi connections, and avoid using public WiFi. 3G or 4G are often more secure than public WiFi in a coffee shop or restaurant.
- Make sure that the websites you use are secure. Check the web address to see if it starts with HTTPS, not just HTTP.
- Sign up for a call blocking service. This won’t stop all scam calls, especially ones that operate illegally, but it will stop cold-callers. This means that any unexpected calls that you do receive are more likely to be from people you actually want to deal with.
How To Recognize A Scam
Knowing what to be on the lookout for in scams is another good way to protect yourself.
- Unsolicited or unexpected contact. If you receive any contact, especially a phone call, out of the blue, it’s usually best to avoid it.
- Email address. If you get an email, check exactly who it was from. If the email is a scam, the email address the message has come from might be misspelled, filled with random numbers, or something from a gmail account claiming to be a major company.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is common with scams around pensions or investment schemes, where a fraudster will promise huge returns for a low risk.
- Asking for personal details, PIN codes, or passwords. No legitimate company will ever need you to share these details.
- Quick decisions. If you feel pushed into making a snap decision on the spot, you should be suspicious. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think about your decision.
- Random competitions, especially if you don’t remember entering them. These should ring an alarm bell.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been A Victim Of A Scam?
If you think you have been fooled by a scam, there are a few things that you need to do.
- Stop sending money straight away. If you have set up a payment as a Direct Debit, get in touch with your bank immediately and stop the payment.
- Report the scam. Depending on where you’re based, there may be a variety of companies who track scams, so check where the right place is for you. Depending on the nature of the scam you have fallen for, you may also need to report it to the Police. If the scam is impersonating your bank, pension scheme, or utility company, contact the genuine company so they can warn other customers.
- Beware of follow-up scams. Sometimes are you report a scam, you may be targeted by a fraudster who claims to be able to help you get your money back.
- Check your credit file. It’s a good idea to check it monthly for any credit applications that you don’t recognise to help you spot fraudulent activity. See if there are applications for credit that you didn’t make, or if there are any negative marks on your file.
One of the best ways to avoid being a victim of scams or other fraudulent activity is to stay alert to the signs of fraud. Be careful with what you sign up for, keep an eye on your credit file, and be careful with giving out any of your personal information.