Navigating Technology and Avoiding Online Scams
August 18, 2022
As technology advances, so do the threats to our personal information and finances. It isn’t enough that people have to navigate technology, but they also have to worry about scammers taking advantage of their uncertainty.
Some may not know what is and isn’t safe when it comes to technology, and they may jump on any offer for help. Unfortunately, this could put them at risk of having their computers and accounts hacked.
Everyday tasks like opening an email, clicking a link, or making a purchase can leave you open to online criminals. While it may sometimes be hard to keep up with technology, it is important to know what may be a scam and what is legitimate online. Take a look at some of the most common online scams and how to use technology safely.
Types of Online Scams
Scammers have become knowledgeable about technology and how to use it against us. They can replicate websites, emails and ads to make them look legitimate. However, if you are aware of these scams and what to look for, you can use technology safely. Here are some of the scams you can find online.
Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams involve criminals claiming to be from a tech support company and offering to help fix a non-existent issue with your computer. They request that you grant them remote access to your computer to resolve the issue. Once they have access to the computer, they can lock you out of your computer until you pay a fee. While they have access to the computer, they can also find your personal information, photos and accounts.
Phishing Emails or Pop Ups
The most common online scams involve phishing emails and pop ups. When you click a link or attachment in an email, a virus can be installed on your device. The same thing may happen if you click on a pop up that looks like an interesting offer or ad. These viruses can do some serious damage to your computer and other devices. They could be left inoperable. As well, your personal information on your electronic devices can be accessed by the individual on the other end.
Online Shopping Scams
When we are shopping online, sometimes all we can see is a good deal. If the website looks legitimate at first glance, we don’t always dig a little deeper to see if it is a scam.
Online shopping fraud involves scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a counterfeit website or a fake ad on a legitimate retail site. They may make the website or ad look exactly like the real retailers, but in the end, you may only receive a knockoff or nothing at all. The scammers may request that you pay through money orders or wire transfers. However, if you send money this way, it’s unlikely you will see it again or receive your item.
How to Spot an Online Scam
While scammers have become more advanced with their tactics, and their online scams look legitimate, there are ways to spot them. When you are online, whether you are visiting websites, checking your email or simply logging into your computer, it is important to be wary of every action you take. Here are some ways that you can spot an online scam.
- Spelling mistakes: look out for emails, pop ups or websites with spelling errors.
- Incorrect website address: look at the website address. Does it seem legitimate or is it fake? They may acquire website addresses that are very similar to the actual website.
- Reviews: check for feedback from other customers. Don’t take a chance if there are very few or no reviews.
- Checked boxes: if the website has pre-checked boxes, it could be leading you into a trap.
- Terms and conditions: don’t trust a website that hides its terms and conditions or doesn’t have any.
- It's too good to be true: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
How to Use the Internet & Technology Safely
While technology may be an unknown realm for some, it is important to know some key ways to keep yourself safe. Here are some tips on how you can use the Internet and technology safely.
- Contact someone you know and trust if you have any concerns regarding technology.
- Keep your anti-virus and security software up to date.
- Communicate with others to keep yourself and them in the know about online scams.
- Never allow someone who has contacted you out of the blue to have remote access to your device.
- Legitimate tech companies will not contact you directly asking for remote access to your computer.
- Only provide remote access to a trusted individual or organization.
- You have the ability to end the remote access session.
- Be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
- Do not open any attachments or links unless you are expecting them.
- If you are concerned about your account, go directly to the company’s official website to log in or call the phone number listed on the website.
- Be wary of any message that urges immediate action.