Avoiding Online Scams: How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Fraud
Technology may empower our lives, but it also enables a growing space for scammers and fraudulent activity. At Naijland, we deeply understand the tech scam landscape and are committed to keeping you informed and protected.
Over 87% of internet users feel vulnerable to cybercrime according to 2022 research by the Nigerian Communications Commission. Financial losses surpass ₦15 billion annually. As technology advances, hackers craft increasingly sophisticated schemes aimed at stealing your money, data and identity.
At Naijland, we expose these scams so you can avoid becoming a victim. Since 2017, we’ve analyzed thousands of software programs, apps, services, devices and more to weed out frauds. Our experienced team of tech experts follows strict protocols to identify red flags in things like privacy policies, terms of service, refund practices, company credentials and functionality claims.
Below we cover key scam types, detection strategies, and steps to take if you are unfortunate enough to be deceived. Knowledge is power when it comes to combatting cybercrime.
Common Tech Scam Types
Phishing – Fraudulent emails, texts, calls pretending to be from trusted sources like banks, tech companies or government agencies in order to steal passwords, account numbers, social security numbers and other personal data. Often urgent threats of account closure or similarly alarming scenarios. Example of phishing scam includes Santander Email Scam, Evri Parcel, BOA Customer Service, Heartland Tri State, Unifin, etc.
Bogus Sites – Fake ecommerce sites with low-quality designs claiming to sell products at huge discounts but never deliver anything after payment. Or sites impersonating real popular brands with slight URL misspellings. Example of these Bogus sites are Jemsphone.shop, Awishday, Habseli, Zeomer, Bertony Shop, etc.
Subscription Traps – Free trial offers for products or services that begin auto-billing monthly subscriptions without consent once the trial ends. Companies make it exceedingly difficult to find contact info, cancel subscriptions or get refunds.
Fake Reviews – Fraudsters posting fabricated 5-star reviews for their own products/services or clients who pay them. Usually easy to spot because of vague praise, similar phrasing and bulk posts. We can see similar website like that like Habseli, TheReviewerProgram, Macyonlinesale, Paid2Play etc.
Technical Support Scams – Pop-ups, ads or emails with fake “virus detected” warnings linking to a phone number for victims to call, at which point the criminal poses as tech support and gains remote access to steal data or install malware.
Ransomware – Malicious software that infects computer systems and locks access to files or networks until ransom is paid, often in untraceable cryptocurrency. May threaten permanent data destruction if demands aren’t met.
Advance Fee Scams – Scammers promise loans, credit cards, apartment rentals, jobs or other services in exchange for upfront payment of “processing fees”, which ends up providing nothing in return aside from fictional excuses.
Overpayment Scams – Buyers send fake overpayments for items purchased online and urge quick refunds of the extra amount accidentally sent. They pocket the returned money before the initial fraudulent checks/payments bounce.
Fake Invoices – Scammers send invoices demanding payment for products or services that were never ordered. They hope victims just pay the professional-looking invoices rather than verifying first.
Fake Charities – Just like Jabali Foundation Promotion, MrBeast, Moneyclaim.gov.uk, etc., criminals create convincing websites for nonexistent charities, exploit compassion and steal credit card information through bogus donation pages.
Lottery/Sweepstakes Scams – Victims informed they have won a prize but must pay “fees”, “insurance” or “taxes” first in order to claim the non-existent winnings.
Fake Investments – Scammers tout get-rich-quick schemes including cryptocurrency, real estate, stocks or other vehicles that end up being fake. Victims are convinced to “invest” but see no returns.
How to Detect Such Scams
Here are ways you can detect online scam
1. Watch for urgent calls to action – Scammers create false urgency to blind victims to red flags. Slow down and vet carefully.
2. Research companies thoroughly – Search for reports of fraud, poor reviews and lack of contact info or credentials. Beware of any reluctance to provide company details.
3. Verify identities – Don’t trust caller ID, email addresses, social media profiles or websites at face value. Check whois info, LinkedIn profiles and call back via official contact numbers.
4. Don’t trust unsolicited contacts – Messages out of the blue requesting personal info or payments are highly risky. Delete and find official contact methods.
5. Guard login credentials – Phishers are masters at creating lookalike login pages. Carefully check URLs and security certs before entering usernames or passwords anywhere.
6. Use security software – Rely on sophisticated security suites to detect malware and malicious links. But don’t trust ads for shady anti-virus programs.
7. Turn on two-factor authentication – 2FA requires secondary confirmation of your identity and blocks many account takeovers. Enable on email, banking, social media and any sensitive accounts.
Steps if You Are Scammed
If you do fall victim to an unfortunate scam, act swiftly to minimize damages:
- Contact banks and credit card companies to halt payments from compromised accounts. Cancel cards and get new ones issued.
- Reset all account passwords, security questions and pins. Enable two-factor authentication if you haven’t already.
- Report the scam to authorities such as the FBI, EFCC or FTC to aid investigations.
- Notify contacts in your phone, email and social media that you were compromised in case scammers target them next.
- Scan all devices with security software to remove any lingering malware. If needed, consult IT professionals to fully disinfect or replace compromised devices. Don’t take chances.
- Sign up for credit monitoring to spot any signs of identity theft and fraudulent accounts opened in your name. Place a credit freeze if necessary.
- Seek emotional support if you are experiencing anxiety, self-blame or other distress. Scam trauma is real and there are confidential professionals who can help. You are not alone.
At Naijland, our mission is giving you the knowledge to evade the latest scammer tactics and threats. Stay vigilant and rely on our decades of tech expertise to steer clear of cons and frauds. We’re here to help you stay safe and get the most from your devices and the internet.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tech Scams
How do I report a scam?
Document all details of the incident and then report to authorities such as the EFCC, FTC or your bank/credit card company. The more information provided, the better. You can also check this article for more information on how to report a scam
What are signs of a phishing email?
Watch for poor spelling/grammar, threats of account closure, false urgency, impersonal greetings like “Dear user”, and requests for sensitive information. Hover over links to check destinations.
Is it safe to click on ads and pop-ups?
No, it’s best to avoid clicking on ads, pop-ups and unsolicited links altogether. They often lead to phishing sites, subscription traps or malware downloads.
Should I pay ransomware demands?
No. There is no guarantee criminals will unlock your system if paid. The FBI advises against paying ransoms which further fund criminal enterprise. Restore from backups if possible.
Can I get scammed on legitimate app stores?
Yes, even Google Play and the Apple App Store inadvertently host some fraudulent apps and subscription scams. Check reviews and developer details before downloading anything.
What should I do if tech support calls me?
Hang up. No legitimate company initiates unsolicited support calls. Find official contact info and call them directly if concerned about your accounts. Never give remote computer access.
Is it safe to buy refurbished electronics?
Yes, buying from reputable retailers can yield great discounted deals. However, always inspect policies around data wiping, hardware testing, warranties and returns in case the device has issues.