Online scammers have stolen well over $12 billion, and they are as determined as ever to keep stealing. They find older people as the most vulnerable targets. There are some methods they use.
Michael Brown, the Customer Success Manager from Semalt, explains how to avoid dangerous malware attacks.
1. Free Stuff
When you’re browsing, you can come across ads telling you that you’ll get stuff for free. It could be a free burger, and you’re super hungry. Don’t fall for it. If you click on the ad or link, it will open a page that downloads malware into your computer or mines personal data.
In some instances, the page will present you with a form to fill. The information will be used by hackers.
Do not click on these ads. Check whether these offers are true by searching on Google, going to the legitimate website or fact checking sites like Snopes.
2. Scamming Mourners
Some cons look for people who are in mourning, mostly widows. They read the obituary pages and find the closest surviving relation of the deceased. The scammer pretends to work in a bank then calls a close relative. The con obtains personal information through this disguise. With this information, the scammer robs the bereaved.
If in such a situation, avoid handling financial issues as you are vulnerable and scammers are out there targeting you. Follow up on calls and emails carefully when you have finished mourning.
3. IRS Scams
Some scammers will call pretending to work for the IRS. This is one of the top scams. The caller will claim that you owe the IRS some money, usually back taxes.
They ask you to wire the money immediately to a specific account, or you’ll be arrested and charged. To pull this off, scammers can use confidential information like your social security number to trick you into believing that they really work for the IRS. An alternative method that cons use is to claim that the IRS will refund you some money after you give some personal information to the caller.
The IRS usually communicates through the postal service and if you get a call you can confirm if it is genuine by calling 800-829-1040 which is the IRS telephone number.
4. Health-Care Scams
Your Social security Number also serves as your Medicare number and scammers target this info and soon you might find charges that you didn’t incur.
Protect the number, keep it secret. If you notice any unknown activity, inform your health insurance immediately. Scammers can get your Social Security Information through phishing calls. They often claim to call from the Health insurance Marketplace. Government Agencies don’t cold call and ask for personal information. If you find a caller asking for your personal information, hang up.
5. Silent Calls
You might be lounging on your couch and enjoying your favorite show when the phone rings. You pick up and say “Hello.” No one answers. This is a robot call, intending to verify potential targets. You can avoid this by using a caller ID. Also, don’t answer unidentified calls. A genuine caller will often leave a message on your answering machine.
6. Trade In Private Information
Despite your best efforts to keep your sensitive information off the hands of the wily scammers, they can obtain your details from:
- Unscrupulous companies that sell their customers information
- Other scammers who may have tried and succeeded or failed in scamming you
- Fake sweepstakes and surveys where you have to fill out your details
All these are a sort of resource center for scammers. Be alert.