As the coronavirus pandemic has shown, there’s nothing that the world’s online scammers won’t look to exploit for their own gain. This merciless group is quite happy to pour misery on those who are already suffering without a second thought for their own morality, or lack thereof.
With the threat of online scammers ever-present, it’s down to us, the decent people of Planet Earth, to do everything we can to avoid these scams.
However, with an ever-changing array of increasingly sophisticated scams, keeping up with the latest scam avoidance techniques can be tough. That’s why we’ve compiled this quick list of the general steps you should take to keep you safe online in 2021.
1. Be Sceptical Of Everything Online
The internet is akin to the Wild West. It’s very difficult to police, so you’re basically on your own. For that reason, you have to stay alert at all times and be skeptical of just about anyone and anything.
In the real world, people do not contact you out of the blue to give you money or offer you fantastic jobs where you can earn £5,000 per day working from home. It just doesn’t happen. For that reason, you should only open emails, links, and attachments from sources you know and trust.
2. Know What To Do If You Have Been Scammed
It’s not only the gullible that fall victim to scams. Given the sophisticated nature of many of today’s scams, anyone can become a victim. For that reason, it’s important that you know what to do if you have been duped by a scam. This guide from Wonga is a good starting point to help you orientate yourself and take the correct actions.
3. Never Send Personal Information To Anyone Via Email
This is a very simple rule to follow and one that does not just apply to 2021. If you follow this rule then you’ll be safe from around 50% of the scams that you’re likely to encounter online.
A legitimate organization will never ask you to send personal information such as bank account details or credit card numbers by email or text. If you receive an email asking you for this information – it’s a scam.
4. Always Double-Check Contact Details In An Email Or Text
If you receive an email or a text from an organization that you do business with, you should still be cautious and avoid clicking on any links or getting in touch using the contact information included in the message. Instead, go to the company’s genuine website and use the contact details that you find there.
5. Find Out If Hackers Have Stolen Your Data
Believe it or not, there’s a quick and easy way to find out if your details have been stolen in one of the major hacks of well-known organizations. The website ‘HaveIBeenPwned?’ allows you to check if your details have been compromised in recent data breaches. It will tell you what attacks your data was stolen in and provide some background on the attack and the data that was compromised.
6. Learn How To Spot The Genuine Links
Just because a link in an email says it will take you to a genuine site, that doesn’t mean it will. By hovering your mouse over a link without clicking and looking at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, you’ll see where that link actually goes.
You should also look for signs that show the link is not genuine, such as .co.uk addresses when it should be a .com, and always check the URL of the link against the address of the genuine website.