In today’s digital world we are being bombarded with more and more scams hitting us from all directions — email scams, text message scams, telephone scams, online scams, tech support scams. I recently bought a new home telephone system that allows users to permanently block calls from unknown callers, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. However, both I and my lovely wife have recently noticed a massive upsurge in text message scams, the most prominent of which has been a parcel delivery scam.
This is officially known as the “Flubot” scam whereby tapping on the link downloads malware that has the potential to immediately access a user’s passwords and financial information. Of course, one should NEVER click/tap any such links and delete these messages immediately. I’ve written all of the following before but, in the face of ever-increasing scams targeting more and more people, I thought it might be timely to repeat these steps on how to identify and deal with scams.
Steps To Identify And Deal With Scams
Telephone Scams: Microsoft, your telecom, ISP, or financial institution will seldom if ever, contact you via an unsolicited telephone call. If anyone calls purporting to represent any of these organizations, hang up immediately. If in doubt, contact the organization yourself using a phone number you know is real and check to see if there is a genuine issue.
Email Scams: One of the simplest ways to identify scam email is in how you are addressed. Genuine email, emanating from a source where you are an account holder or have conducted business, will always address you by name. On the other hand, scam email will almost certainly use a generic address, such as “Dear Customer”. Also, while scamming methods have become more and more sophisticated, the ability to communicate in good English remains a problem for scammers. Look out for incorrect spelling or bad grammar as these are sure signs that an email is a scam.
*Delete any suspect email immediately. Do NOT click any embedded links or open any attachments.
Text Message Scams: Are more difficult to identify and deal with. Because SMS is such a basic form of communication, fraudulent messages are a lot harder to spot. Text messages are short, which leaves little room for obvious spelling or grammatical mistakes. That said, very similar rules apply:
- Treat all unsolicited text messages with extreme caution. Do not tap links in or reply to any unsolicited text messages
- Although, because of their brevity, text messages are less likely to contain spelling or grammatical errors, they still can. So keep an eye out
- If in doubt, contact the organization yourself, via a known genuine phone number or website
*Delete all suspicious text messages immediately and, if your mobile phone settings permit, block the source phone number
Online Scams: In particular Facebook. Facebook is a huge resource for scammers. You know those harmless-looking questions and quizzes? Well, they are specifically designed to collect information about YOU. Scammers use these seemingly harmless questions and quizzes to build profiles that can then be used to steal or duplicate your identity, hack your accounts, and other nefarious activities.
- Please read: Facebook Quizzes: Why You Should Avoid Them
*The solution is simple — do NOT interact with these questions and quizzes on Facebook.
Tech Support Scams: I’ve written previously about the two most prominent tech support scams — Reimage Repair and Restoro. The company behind these scams pays affiliate fees to websites that host ads for their dubious service and, as a consequence, these ads are prolific across the web, even on websites that are otherwise regarded as reputable. If you see ads such as the two hereunder, please do not click on them:
How the scam works: you will download software that will scan your system and try to frighten you into parting with money by reporting a large number of fictitious issues and then offering to fix them for you… at a price. It may even infect your system itself.
Please bear in mind that there is no such thing as a fix anything and everything solution. These tech support scams suck victims in by promising miracles which cannot be delivered; they are pure snake oil designed only to part you from your hard-earned dollars.
2 Golden Rules To Thwart Scammers
- Treat everything with a healthy dose of skepticism and caution
- If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is
Many of you savvy DCT readers will already be aware of much of what I’ve written here. Your job now is to educate those among your circle of family and friends who are not so computer/security savvy. Help protect the vulnerable in your community by sharing a link to this article.