Avoiding Online Scams in the Digital Age

October 19, 2021

It feels like you hear every month about a new online scam. The internet has changed the world in so many ways, but just like most great things in life there is a downside. Online scams are still wildly prevalent and despite the misconception that this is primarily for senior citizens, a new study by the FTC found out that indeed more millennials are getting scammed for more money online. At First Oklahoma FCU protecting your money and financial wellbeing is a top priority. That’s why we have outlined how to spot the latest scams and how you can protect yourself with these internet safety tips.   

Facebook Scams

The Better Business Bureau warns about a new way of online fraud happening on Facebook. It begins with a “friend or relative” who contacts you through Facebook saying that you get free money! These can come from a hacked profile or fake profile. So, what’s “the catch?” You need to pay up front for shipping and handling or provide some other personal information that can be used to steal your identity. Use these tips to avoid a hack or scam on Facebook.  

  • Don’t give out your password (and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts) 
  • Avoid accepting unknown friend requests
  • Use a private secured network (never public Wi-Fi) for signing into accounts (especially your bank account)
  • Keep apps, browsers, and antivirus up to date

Scam Websites

The phrase “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” absolutely applies to shopping online. There are quite a few fake shopping websites popping up lately, aimed to scam you out of your money. Learn how to spot a fake website or online store front:

  • Bad grammar or poor website design
  • Prices too good to be true
  • Fake logo, store name or web address (IE: this-great-deal-for-mac.com or something that’s a few words or letters from the real one)
  • Unable to accept credit or debit card payments
  • Suspicious/ paid reviews

How can you protect yourself from scam websites?

Texting (AKA Smishing)

Like phishing scams, which are essentially fake emails from reputable companies, there is a text message version of this scam called smishing. Its essentially a fraudulent text with an urgent message that something is wrong, and you need to click on a link to send personal information or simply reply to the text to resolve the situation. They could also promise free gifts or offers in exchange for your personal information. What can you do if you think a text may be spam? 

  • Don’t reply or click on any links
  • Call the company directly if you think there may be something funny going on.
  • Delete the text

Make Money Online Scams

This is one of the largest ways people can get scammed with promises of making extra money from home or making easy money online. Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Generate Passive Income: This scam sells you a system to help you become a financial success overnight. These are usually consistent with fake testimonials and bad information. 
  • Cryptocurrency: This one wants you to give them your bank account information so they can deposit bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies with promises of doubling or even tripling your money
  • Work from home scams: There are quite a few ways to make money online, but some of it could be a trap if you aren’t careful. Look out for the ones that require you to pay before you can get to work, those that seem too good to be true.

Online Dating or Romance

This is where you get the term “catfishing”.  This very popular online scam involves an individual preying on vulnerable people that are looking for a connection in the online space, attempting to lure them into draining their bank account. Often this means having the victim fall in love with them while using information from their online dating profile. Romance scammers will quickly try to lure into a conversation on a private channel (text messaging) Come to find out something horrible happens. This could be a family member is in the hospital or someone died, lost a job. This is when they will start asking for money or gifts. Follow these tips to avoid falling for this scam:

  • Avoid sending photos of yourself they could later be used for blackmail
  • Be careful what you post on social media 
  • Don’t give money or gifts to someone you haven’t met in real life. 

How to report a scammer

If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to fraud or Identity theft, call us at 918-582-1965

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