Whether you’re home with the flu or just hunkering down for the winter, you’re probably using your computer for entertainment, shopping or searching for a home. From an email hack, a phishing scam, to a Nigerian money order, there are numerous ways you can get scammed online and each day the possibilities increase. You may not cry over losing a small amount of money for something you never receive, but having your electronic device become infected with malware and possibly losing your financial data, can turn into a nightmare!
Here are a few red flags from a recent article I read to help you to keep your business and personal property safe:
Payment required without clarity. If you're interested in checking out a product for business or perhaps a summer rental for personal enjoyment, if an upfront payment is required before you get any real information, it's likely a scam. Even with photos or contact person, especially if you are looking for a rental, use a “real” real estate sales person!
Required downloads. Online scammers can get you by asking you to download something, infect your hard drive with malware and steal your information. If you're being asked to download something from a source you can't find information on, or if your anti-malware software (because you have that, right?) is giving you an alert, back away slowly.
Jargon. Be wary of jargon you don't understand. Reputable companies aim for clarity. Fraudsters aim to confuse and trick. If you're feeling confused or pressured with the information presented, close it down.
Too good to be true promises. If a product or "tool" is making lofty promises, they're likely empty, and an attempt to snag your banking information.
Now that I’ve made you paranoid, here are some tips to help you cope and avoid falling prey:
Google the following: "<company name> scam". This is one of the easiest ways to catch a scam artists and those who have fallen prey are taking to the web to warn others. Always do your due diligence by searching this simple phrase on Google for safety.
Look for a working number. No working phone number? It's likely a scam. And if there is a number, make sure someone actually answers your call.
Look for an address. Legit businesses have an address, yes? After you locate the address, Google it to see what comes up.
Trust your gut. Something inside giving you stay-away signals? Listen to it! Follow your intuition!
*Source: RIS Media’s Housecall, January 23, 2018.