AppNomu takes online security very seriously and understands many of the tricks and techniques behind the most popular online scams. Understanding and being able to recognize such cons is the best way to avoid falling victim to them.
To help you do exactly that, we’ve put together this guide to help you stay safe online. We’ll cover how to spot an online scam, the different types of scams, and how to avoid them and protect yourself.
How can you spot a scam?
- Something seems too good to be true – for example, if out of the blue you’re told you’ve won a round the world trip
- A stranger contacts you unexpectedly via email or social media
- A company that contacts you doesn’t seem legitimate, e.g. has no postal address
- You’re asked to transfer money quickly
- You’re asked to pay in an unusual way – for example, by vouchers or wire transfer
- You’re asked to give away personal information like passwords or PINs
- You’re asked to click on a link in a text message to ‘update’ or ‘verify’ account details
Remember – your bank and other reputable financial institutions will never:
- Call you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password, even by tapping them into the telephone keypad
- Ask you to update your personal details by following a link in a text message
- Ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons
What are the types of online scams?
Here are a few of the most typical online scams.
1. Email scams
Email scams are among the most common. You might receive an email offering a sum of money in return for helping someone to move their money to another account, or overseas (this is known as a “419 email”).
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.
There are also investment and pension scams, which might offer shares, or the chance to convert your pension pot into cash.
Our tips for avoiding email scams:
- Don’t click on links or open attachments in an unsolicited email
- Check the sender’s email address matches the website address of the organization it says it’s from. Roll your mouse pointer over the sender’s name to see its actual address
- Be wary if the email doesn’t use your name and says something like “Dear customer”
- Avoid emails with a sense of urgency, asking you to act immediately
- Beware of emails with poor grammar and spelling mistakes
- Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited. This includes banking and credit card information, your birth date, and Social Security/ Social Insurance numbers
- Keep your devices updated with antivirus software to protect yourself from any malware
2. Online dating scams
These usually happen through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact.
They might 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’ll ask for money and gifts, even your banking/credit card details. They may pretend to need the money for some sort of personal emergency.
Our tips for avoiding online dating scams:
Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. Consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam, particularly if:
- You meet someone online, and after just a short time, they claim to have strong feelings for you and ask to chat with you privately
- Their profile on the internet dating website or their Facebook page is not consistent with what they tell you
- They ask for money, gifts or your bank account/credit card details
3. Shopping scams
More and more of us are shopping online now, but if you spot a great online offer which is “too good to be true”, it probably is.
Our tips for avoiding online shopping scams:
- Make sure that 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
- Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods and services. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Say ‘no’ to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments, overpayments, and handshake deals without a contract
- 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 recognize
4. Facebook impersonation scam
Since it’s so important for your privacy and online security, you should be as careful protecting your social media accounts as you are protecting your banking or email account.
Our tips for avoiding impersonation scams:
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know
- Don’t share your password with others
- When logging in, use two-factor authentication
- Avoid connecting to public and free Wi-Fi networks
- Keep your browser and apps updated
- Add an additional layer of security and use proactive cybersecurity software
“Money flipping” scams are increasing on social media, where profiles show luxury goods and promise to deposit money into an account. The scammer may pose as a bank or luxury retailer, and may talk about investment opportunities. Social media is popular for these type of scams, especially on platforms with the ability to DM people who aren’t mutual follows. As a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true, chances are that it probably is.
You can keep yourself safe by only using the AppNomu Web App or making transactions through appnomu.co. Avoid using third party intermediaries, or agents who offer to make transactions on your behalf.
Don’t let them get away with it.