Scam is simply defined as an illegitimate or deceptive plan of making money, particularly by tricking unsuspecting victims e.g. individuals, companies or organisations.
With the advancement of technology, particularly the invention of high tech devices everywhere e.g. smartphones and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices, there is no doubt that we now live in an age where almost anything seems possible, good, easy, cheap and available.
The scammers are aware of this development and they are also taking advantage of the situation to trick unsuspecting victims to giving their money, property, personal or sensitive information to them.
They are always looking for ways to make money at the expense of unsuspecting victims.
Internet related crimes are getting more sophisticated every day because of advancement of technology. As far as online scams are concerned, we are all vulnerable irrespective of age, sex, status, tribe, academic qualification or nationality.
We must be informed that the menace of online scams in our society cannot be totally eradicated in today’s technology age but we can reduce it to the barest minimum by educating ourselves, implementing best practices and staying vigilant at all times.
There are many reasons why many people fall prey to online scams but here are some common reasons:
1. Greediness: Most people with excessive desire for wealth usually fall victim to any kind of scam.
2. Ignorance: A lot of people fall prey to scams because they have little or no knowledge about the common tricks used by scammers.
3. Gullibility: Anybody that can be easily convinced that something is true or real will always fall prey to almost any type of scam.
4. Lack of proper investigation: Scammers send a lot of scam emails every day and many unsuspecting victims respond without doing proper investigation.
5. Urgent desire for free offer: Scammers send out information containing free offer of goods, services and free money to trick unsuspecting victims and many unsuspecting victims fall for the scams because they want free money or goods and services that they won’t pay for.
6. Desperation to gain employment: Many unemployed people that are desperate to get job fall victim to unemployment scams on a daily basis.
7. Fear of missing a great opportunity: Many unsuspecting victims fall for scams because they don’t want to miss the deceptive business opportunities introduced to them by scammers.
8. Lack of special internet safety education for aged people and young children: Elderly people and young children are key targets of scammers because they are the most vulnerable.
9. Lack of frequent awareness campaigns: Lack of regular awareness campaigns to sensitise the general public on the dangers and lasting solutions to scams makes many people to fall prey to scams.
10. Urgent desire for cheap products: Many people fall victim to scams because they are urgently looking for cheap products.
11. Carelessness: Many people are careless about their personal and sensitive information and this increases their vulnerabilities to any kind of scam.
12. Many victims don’t want to share their stories: When victims don’t share their stories with others, others will continue to fall prey to scams.
Safety tips to avoid online scams:
1. Investigate thoroughly before you invest in any business. More importantly, don’t believe everything you see online.
2. Avoid sharing personal or sensitive information on social media.
3. Report any suspicious or fraudulent activity immediately to the police or other anti-crime organizations.
4. Avoid sharing personal or sensitive information through phone conversation.
5. Be suspicious of any goods or services that is free.
6. When you receive strange calls or text messages frequently, be suspicious.
7. Check your online and offline accounts regularly to know if there is any fraudulent activities.
8. Avoid connecting to the internet through public WiFi.
9. Avoid clicking on any link or downloading any attachment if you are not sure the information is safe and secure.
11. When you are contacted to provide personal or sensitive information online by any individual or organization, be suspicious and do a thorough investigation.
12. Avoid doing online transaction in any website that you don’t trust.
13. If an offer sounds too good to be true, be suspicious and do a thorough investigation.
14. Use anti-virus software and keep it updated with the operating system of your device.
15. When you receive any call from your bank requesting for your personal or sensitive information, don’t provide the information but visit your bank immediately to address the issue.
CEO Onadipe Technologies,
Founder – Internet Safety Magazine.