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‘Tis the season for Scamming

Good news! It’s the time of year again. 13th month pay is being released as well as for some companies, extra Christmas bonus. It is also the time when relatives overseas also send in extra funds to their families.

And now for the bad news: It is also the time for intensified campaigns involving financial fraud. Fraudsters have evolved over the years, continually improving their tactics in their effort to steal personal information and even real money from their victims.

It is times like these that highlight the importance of knowing how to spot fraud attempts to avoid them. One of the most prevalent methods used by fraudsters to steal personal information (and consequently funds from online banking or mobile wallet apps) is Phishing. This may be a common tactic and a lot of people already know about it but developments in AI technology have enabled fraudsters to craft more believable messages that lures their victims to expose their credentials.

The continued popularity of social media apps also spawned tactics that is leveraged by fraudsters. I would like to refer to these social media-based fraud tactics as Social Media Pretexting. It can be as simple as a fraudster impersonating someone to solicit funds or ask for “help” or “donations”. It can also be rather complicated as Like Farming. Here are other social media-based fraud practices that people needs to be aware of:

Social media-based fraud practices are diverse and can be quite sophisticated. Here are some common methods:

Social Media Account Cloning: This is when people create a social media account that mimics a real person. They then send connection requests to the friends of those actual person and once the connection has been established, they will then start to either ask for personal loans or outright ask for money.

Crimes of Opportunity: Status updates including locations can be used by criminals. For example, if you post that you’re out of town or out of the country on vacation, you’ve opened yourself up to burglary.

Online Shopping Fraud: Goods are advertised and ordered but not received.

Fake Store Ads: These ads steal your personal information or money. These are also used to entice people to “buy” products at an outrageously low price but they either run away with the money or send out fake products.

Here are some tips on how to avoid these types of scams:

  1. Watch out for unsolicited emails, phone calls, and text messages. Often, scammers use these methods to trick you into revealing personal information or downloading malware onto your device. If you receive an unsolicited message, don’t click on any links or download any attachments. Instead, delete the message and block the sender.
  2. Verify the sender of messages you receive. If you receive unexpected messages from a friend, company or organization, verify that it’s legitimate before responding. Check the sender’s email address or phone number.
  3. Be cautious when shopping online. Only patronize reputable websites that use secure payment methods. Whenever possible, use “prepaid cards” and avoid using your main credit card as a mode of payment
  4. Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication. Create strong passwords that are difficult to guess and use two-factor authentication whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security to your accounts and makes it more difficult for scammers to gain access.
  5. Do your research. Learn about common scams. Scammers are always coming up with new ways to trick people, so it’s important to stay informed about the latest scams.