In the age of modern technology, it is important to be wary of scams used to gain private information from one of your accounts or devices. This sensitive information can be used to take money from the victim without him or her even knowing.
There are several different ways someone can gain access to a person’s account or device. Some of the more common ways are:
- Sending malicious emails. A favorite tactic among scammers is to send an email that disguises itself as being from someone in the target’s contact list. The email will usually say something along the lines of “Hey, check this out” followed by a link. Upon clinking the link, the victim grants the virus access to the computer. The virus can then grab whatever it wants, and will also send itself to everyone on the victim’s contact list.
- Sending malicious texts. The victim will receive a text message, making some claim that a balance is overdue on some account, and may request that the person open a link to a website to pay the balance. The text could also ask for account information to verify that the victim is who they claim to be. Upon doing so, the victim grants the scammer access to the account.
- Phone scam. For phone scams, the scammer calls an unsuspecting person and claims to be a representative from some company or law enforcement agency. They will tell the intended victim that money is owed, and it needs to be paid right away or a warrant will be issued for the victim’s arrest. It is a common scare tactic. The idea is to get the victim so freaked out that they no longer think straight. If a person receives a call like this, they should hang up right away. If they are truly concerned that there may be an issue, contact the company or law enforcement agency that supposedly called. This ensures that the real company or agency is actually reached, not someone claiming to be from them.
The best thing to do in all of these cases, is to stop and think. You should never click on a link unless you are completely sure that you can trust the source of the link. The case of emails, check to see the actual email address that sent the message. You may find that even though it says it came from someone you know, it actually came from a random address.
If you are unsure if something came from a friend or not, simply ask the friend through some other means, not replying to the email or text that sent the questionable link. Your friend may have no idea what you are talking about, which tells you the message was a scam.
Another important note, is that no government or law enforcement agency will require people to pay fines or debts with money transfers or store bought cards. Scammers prefer these methods of payment since it is harder for the victim to get the money back once it is sent away.