Saturday, July 13, 2024

Top 9 cyber scams and how to spot them

Falling victim to scams can result in financial loss, identity theft, privacy breaches and malware infections. Scammers often target vulnerable individuals and use deceptive tactics to manipulate them into giving away personal or financial information. As these scams have grown in sophistication, being able to identify them helps protect you and your loved ones from facing significant consequences.

Check out the top nine scams:

1. Technology Support Scams

Technology support scams often begin with a phone call or a pop-up on your computer claiming there’s an issue with your device. The scammer, pretending to be from a well-known technology company, will say they’ve detected a virus or a serious technical problem. Their goal is to trick you into paying for unnecessary repairs or software. To identify a technology support scam, be cautious of the following:

  • Unexpected Contact: If someone randomly contacts you claiming to be technology support, be cautious 
  • Pressure Tactics: Scammers often create a sense of urgency, saying your computer is at risk to pressure you into acting quickly
  • Requests for Payment or Personal Information: Be wary if they ask for money, especially via gift cards or wire transfers, or if they ask for personal information 
  • Remote Access Requests: A big red flag is if they want to remotely access your computer to “fix” the problem

Remember, legitimate technology companies won’t contact you this way for technical issues. If in doubt, hang up and contact the company directly through official channels.

2. Voice Cloning Scams

Voice cloning scams involve scammers using advanced technology to mimic the voice of someone you know, like a family member or a boss. They use this fake voice to trick you into thinking you’re talking to a real person you trust.  

To identify a voice cloning scam, be cautious of the following: 

  • Unexpected Requests: Be cautious if you receive a call where the caller, sounding like someone you know, suddenly asks for money or sensitive information 
  • Quality of the Call: Sometimes, the cloned voice may have unusual tones or delays, which can be a giveaway
  • Urgent or Unusual Demands: Scammers often create a sense of emergency, urging you to act fast without thinking
  • Verifying Identity: If you’re doubtful, hang up and call back a known, trusted number to confirm if the request was genuine

Always remember, if something feels off about a call, trust your instincts and double-check before taking any action.

3. Phishing, SMiShing, and Vishing Scams

Be cautious of emails, texts and voicemails from what seems to be companies or other financial institutions. They might ask you to click on a link, which can download harmful software to steal your personal details. Vishing is similar, but it happens over the phone, where scammers pretend to be from a legitimate organization to get your private financial info. SMiShing is a text message that can appear to be for an undeliverable package, utility company or financial institution asking you to click on a link or call them at a phone number. 

4. Imposter Scams

Watch out for people claiming to be from the government or utility companies saying you owe money for taxes or bills.

5. Lottery Scams

If you get an email or text saying you’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes and they ask for your bank details or a fee to claim your prize, it’s a scam.

6. Digital Payment Scams

Scammers use payment apps like Zelle, CashApp or even gift cards to trick you into sending them money, often pretending to be someone you owe money to. Scammers often pretend to be from trusted companies like a bank or even government agencies. They might try to trick you into sending them money quickly using methods like Wire Transfer or Zelle. Once the money is sent, it’s usually hard to get it back. Be extra careful if you get any messages asking for money related to recent happenings in the finance world.

Here’s a simple rule:

Don’t send money using Wire Transfer, Zelle or similar services to:

  • Anyone who says your account is in danger
  • Anyone who asks you to send money to yourself
  • Anyone who says they’re from the government
  • People you don’t know, no matter what story they tell you
  • Salespeople who call you on the phone trying to sell something
  • Websites or people selling cryptocurrency that aren’t verified or authorized

7. Fake Shopping Websites

Be wary of online ads offering great deals on products. You might end up with fake items or nothing at all after making a purchase.

8. Charity and Disaster Fraud

Be careful about donating to charities, especially new or unfamiliar ones, and always use secure methods like their official website to make donations.

9. Employment Scams

Job seekers, beware of fake recruiters asking for personal information like your Social Security Number under the guise of job applications. They’re looking to steal your identity.

Originally published at

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