There are many benefits to being online and using email, social media etc and while technology has accelerated our performance and given us instant access to information we are sometimes bombarded with attempts by fraudsters, scams, and phishing (people impersonating someone to get information) to steal from us. So, with the help of www.garyvaynerchuk.com I put together my spin on his 10 top tips to help protect yourself.
- DON’T SEND MONEY TO PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW
A request from a stranger asking for money or personal information should always be a red flag. No matter what enticing offer is, it’s never a good idea to send your money to anyone you do not personally know. However, that does not mean because you know them, you should either. So be careful, ask a friend to look over a request from a friend if you are unsure.
- NEVER SHARE PERSONAL INFORMATION WITH SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW
Some fraudsters won’t ask for money right away, but will instead request sensitive private information such as your address, phone number, bank account or credit card numbers or national insurance number. This information can be used to commit identity theft and should never be freely shared.
- NEVER ASSUME THE NAME OR PROFILE YOU SEE IS THE RIGHT ONE
Many fraudsters are savvy enough to bypass the “stranger danger” roadblock by impersonating trusted or well-known figures. They will go as far as to use a celebrity’s name. Look what happens with ITV’s Martin Lewis and his money tips. They use his name all the time online to endorse their scams. They also use the names of high-profile companies or employees in messages to lure you into a false sense of security. Look beyond this name-dropping tactic and never assume that the source of the message is legitimate without verifying.
- LOOK OUT FOR SPAM MESSAGES
If someone is spamming you with message requests aka repeatedly reaching out, be wary. Fraudsters can be very persistent and will likely try to contact you several times on more than one platform or phone number. Just block the number on your phone. Here’s how to block a number on an android phone and on an Apple phone.
- ALWAYS VERIFY OFFICIAL WEBSITES AND LINKS
Like fake phone numbers and social media profiles, fraudsters will often create entire websites that look eerily similar to official sites on which you conduct business. Oftentimes, the URL address will be off by only a few letters or characters, and the site might even feature a passable replica of an authentic logo. These fraudulent sites will often be sent to you via email or text message, but be sure never to click on any suspicious links and to always carefully check the URL address. Classic is when you are sent an email and the title is correct but the email address itself has no connection to the company or person. E.g. From Martin Lewis and the email address is not similar e.g. email@example.com
- NEVER SHARE YOUR PRIVATE KEY OR SEED PHRASE
If you’re into cryptocurrency or NFT Wallet is your thing private keys and seed phrases are like the golden keys. They must never — ever — be shared, lost or left susceptible to discovery or theft. Sharing your public address is fine, but remember, if someone has access to your private key or seed phrase, they can steal your funds with ease. Take a look at this guide for secure seed phrase storage.
Many fraudsters will take advantage of people by asking them to verify their wallet address to win a prize or some other incentive. Do not fall for it.
- BEWARE OF ADVANCE-FEE SCHEMES
They are fairly common. In these cases, someone will ask you to send a sum of money in exchange for the promise of a greater reward later. Victims send funds willingly because they believe they are making an investment, only to see their money disappear.
- BEWARE OF GET RICH QUICK SCHEMES
Generally, you want to be wary of any “opportunities” claiming to be able to get you a large sum of money quickly or overnight. I always look behind everything and let time pass before making any quick decisions on making investments in search of a quick buck. It’s short-sighted and will often lead to disappointment. Be careful of falling prey to human greed.
- BEWARE OF REQUESTS FOR CRYPTOCURRENCY, WIRE TRANSFERS OR GIFT CARDS
Fraudsters will commonly offer enticing opportunities and require that you pay them in cryptocurrency, money transfers or gift cards. This is often an indication of a scam because these funds are almost always non-recoverable. Remember, stolen cryptocurrency is gone forever. There is no bank, government or other authority that can help you recover your funds, and fraudsters know that. If you receive this kind of request, don’t respond.
- BEWARE OF COVID-19 SCAMS
People all over the UK have lost millions to Covid related scams. These scams were tied to everything from vaccines to stimulus checks and unemployment benefits. Sadly, many scammers are preying on the vulnerability of people who are scared and looking for relief and answers during this difficult time. Stay vigilant and look out for scams using pandemic buzzwords as a way to extract money or information.
- If an opportunity feels suspicious, inauthentic, or too good to be true, it most likely is.
- Always back up your private keys/seed phrases in secure locations, and never share them with anyone, under any circumstances.
- Do not send money, cryptocurrency or sensitive personal information to people you don’t know.
- Never assume a website is legitimate. Always do your research and check for the official site, logo and URL address.
With ultra-low interest rates and literally no returns in the bank there are many people out there waiting to take advantage of that enthusiasm by setting traps. Please, remain vigilant for fraudsters, secure your private information and use your judgement when it comes to the people and companies with whom you do business. Often, I’ve found your first reaction or feeling is the right one. If you are ever unsure about the legitimacy of a text, direct message you can report and/or block fake accounts on their respective platforms and check out this link to the National Cyber Security Centre https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/suspicious-email-actions
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and encourage others to stay safe and informed.