Protect Yourself Online: Watch Out for These Common Scams!
We all use digital devices these days. Whether it’s using a school computer, your home PC or your mobile, it’s important to be aware of online scams that can harm us financially and emotionally. Scammers are getting smarter every day, but by understanding the most common types of online scams, we can stay safe and keep our personal information secure. In this article, we’ll explore some friendly and easy-to-understand explanations of common online scams, including phishing scams, romance scams, tech support scams, investment and money scams, lottery and prize scams, and identity theft. By learning about these scams, you’ll be better equipped to protect yourself online.
Phishing scams are like sneaky fishing trips for personal information. Scammers pretend to be trustworthy organisations and send emails, texts, or pop-up messages that look real. They trick you into clicking on links or sharing sensitive information like passwords or credit card details. Always double-check the sender’s authenticity and never share personal information through suspicious channels.
In June, School-Kits had an email from a school asking what a receipt was in relation to that they had received in an email from us. On checking, the school had not purchased since 2018 and it was not a receipt our system had issued. This is an example of a phishing scam. The email was not sent by us and we advised the school to delete it and not open any attachments.
Picture this: scammers on dating websites or social media create fake profiles and play with your emotions. They make you believe they’re interested in a relationship and then ask for money, claiming it’s for emergencies or travel expenses. Be cautious when building relationships online and never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
Another scam could be that when the person is showing this fake interest, they are gathering information on where you live and who your friends are. Be very careful who you talk to online and give details to!
If you are lonely and looking for friends, don’t use the internet. Talk to people at school. Ask your school for a copy of our booklet “How to Make Friends”.
Tech Support Scams:
Tech support scams are like fake IT helpers trying to trick you. Scammers might call you or display pop-up messages on your computer, pretending to be from well-known companies. They claim your computer has a virus or technical issue, and then either try to gain remote access to your computer or convince you to buy unnecessary software or services. Remember, legitimate tech support companies won’t contact you without your request.
Remember: IT companies will not call you unless you call them first and no one will ever ask for your password.
Investment and Money Scams:
Investment and money scams target people looking for financial opportunities or quick profits. Scammers promise big returns with low risk, presenting attractive investment schemes. They might create fake investment companies or use pyramid schemes to trick you into giving them your money. Always do your research and consult with professionals before making any financial decisions.
Lottery and Prize Scams:
Imagine receiving a message that you’ve won a big prize or a ton of money! Sounds exciting, right? But beware of scammers who claim you’ve won and then ask you to pay fees, and taxes, or provide personal information to claim your prize. Legitimate lotteries and contests don’t ask winners to pay to receive their prizes, so be sceptical of any such requests and verify the legitimacy of the organisation.
Other variations are (and I have had several myself in the last months) texts saying that they tried to deliver a parcel but you were not in and to book a better time. Then they ask for a redelivery fee! Another is a text from a bank asking you to click on their link to conform an update to their terms and conditions.
Never click on any of these links. They are easily spotted by bad spelling or fake links.
Identity theft is like someone stealing your personal information and pretending to be you. Scammers can get hold of your social security number, bank account details, or credit card information. They can then use this information to make unauthorised purchases, open fraudulent accounts, or commit financial fraud. Protect yourself by using strong and unique passwords, and regularly check your financial statements for any suspicious activity.
Something that catches people all the time on social media posts such as, “The most popular colour is red. List your favourite colour in the comments below”, “Where did you first go to school” or “Studies show that most people are born in June. List in comments when you were born.” All of these are scams to collect your information to create false identities so they can then scam someone into believing they are you to your friends. These are commonly used to get money out of people or sell fake items or worse.
Ignore ALL these leading questions and unsolicited surveys.
Online scams are like traps set by crafty scammers, but with some knowledge and caution, you can stay safe online. By understanding common scams like phishing, romance, tech support, investment, lottery, and identity theft scams, you can protect yourself and your personal information. Remember to stay vigilant, be cautious when sharing personal details, and report any suspicious activities to the authorities. By staying informed and adopting safe online practices, you can enjoy a secure and worry-free online experience.
For more information see:
Our product: Navigating the Internet
Netsafe: All about online scams and your protection
CERT NZ – Scams and Fraud
NZ Police – More information on common scams
Department of Internal Affairs – More Notes on common scams.
Be safe online and ask a friend, teacher or parent if you are unsure!