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How to Avoid Getting Bilked by Scammers Online

How to Avoid Getting Bilked by Scammers Online

Online scams are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost over $4.2 billion to fraud in 2020, up from $3.3 billion in 2019. Scammers use various tactics to bilk unsuspecting victims out of their money, personal information, or both. Some of the common types of online scams include:

  • Phishing: This is when scammers send fake emails or texts that look like they come from legitimate organizations, such as banks, government agencies, or online platforms. They try to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment that may infect your device with malware or lead you to a fake website where they ask you to enter your login credentials, credit card details, or other sensitive information.
  • Impostor scams: This is when scammers pretend to be someone you know or trust, such as a family member, friend, romantic partner, or authority figure. They may contact you via phone, email, social media, or dating apps and ask you for money or personal information for various reasons, such as an emergency, a business opportunity, a gift, or a favor. They may also ask you to send them gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency, which are hard to trace and recover.
  • Fake online offers: This is when scammers create fake websites, ads, or social media posts that offer products or services that are too good to be true, such as free trials, discounts, giveaways, or prizes. They may ask you to pay a small fee or provide your personal information to claim the offer, but then they either deliver nothing or something of poor quality, charge you more than you agreed to, or use your information for identity theft.

So how can you avoid getting bilked by scammers online? Here are some tips to help you protect yourself and your money:

  1. Be skeptical: Don’t trust everything you see or hear online. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone contacts you out of the blue and asks you for money or personal information, be wary. Do some research before you respond or take any action. Look for signs of fraud, such as spelling errors, poor grammar, mismatched logos, or suspicious links.
  2. Verify the source: Don’t click on links or open attachments from unknown senders. Don’t call back numbers that you don’t recognize. Don’t send money or personal information to anyone you haven’t met in person or verified their identity. Use official websites, phone numbers, and email addresses to contact organizations or individuals that you trust. Check online reviews and ratings to see what others say about the products or services that you are interested in.
  3. Protect your devices and accounts: Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Use antivirus software and update it frequently. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks or devices for sensitive transactions. Check your bank statements and credit reports regularly for any unauthorized charges or activity. Report any suspicious activity to your bank, credit card company, or online platform.

By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of getting bilked by scammers online and keep your money and information safe.

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