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How To Spot An Online Scam
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There are many giveaways to tell you when someone is lying in person – they seem nervous, won’t look you in the eye, get caught off guard by the right questions and so on. But it’s much harder to catch a scammer online when they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet.

E-scams are becoming more prevalent and more creative, so it’s often difficult to tell if you’re being scammed or not. Here are some signs you can check and some precautions you can take to ensure that you don’t fall for any tricks in the digital space.

1. don’t open strange attachments

An email notification pops up on your screen. You check the email and notice there’s a strangely-named attachment – it might be just a random series of letters and numbers. Should you open it?

The natural response is to click on it out of curiosity but if you don’t recognise the sender, there’s a high chance that the mystery attachment could contain dangerous malware that could capture personal information and harm your computer. Best to play it safe if you aren’t sure that it comes from a reputable source.

This goes for attachments sent over other channels like Facebook and Whatsapp too.  

2. read ‘urgent!’ messages carefully

“There has been suspicious activity in your account!” “Someone has been accessing your account from a different country!”

Email subjects like these are a common scare tactic by scammers, especially if the email looks like it came from a real bank or other company. It will usually contain instructions for you to send them your details for reset purposes, but doing so will lead to the actual loss of your account and more. If you get an email like this, don’t panic. Do a quick Google check to see if the sender exists.

If it claims to be from a real organisation, call the number given on their official website – never use numbers, emails or links provided in the email itself unless you’re sure that the sender is legitimate.

3. watch out for spelling errors or poor grammar

It’s usually easy to detect a fake email if it’s filled with grammatical errors. Official emails undergo rounds of proofreading before being sent out and even if they do have errors, they should be minor. If your email looks like it was written by a three-year-old, it’s probably a scam.

While this doesn’t mean that an official email with poor grammar is always a scam, chances are high that it is. When in doubt, it never hurts to call the original sender to verify.

4. don’t click on unrecognised links

Whenever you’re sent a link of any sort, hover your cursor over it to see the actual hyperlink and where it leads to. You can hyperlink any typed text, so sometimes scammers will type the real address of a site but hyperlink it to their fake site.

If the URL shown when you mouse over does not match the text typed, best to err on the side of caution and not click it.

5. don’t blindly trust messages from your friends

Be careful when you receive strange messages from people, even if they’re on your friend list. Scammers can hack into your friends’ accounts to pose as them and send you a personal message with a virus link embedded inside.

If you think something seems fishy, ask your friend personally – preferably through other means, like calling them – if they really sent you that message.

That’s the best way to verify if Sarah actually needs you to bank RM10,000 into her account because she got into an accident in Timbuktu…or if it’s not Sarah at all.

6. do not ever reveal personal details

Real companies will never ask you for personal information such as your credit card number or your password through an email or a messaging service. No matter how legitimate the email looks, if it requests sensitive information like this, it’s probably fake.

Information such as this should never be sent electronically as it increases the risk of your personal data being stolen if a security breach happens.

7. don’t be fooled by the gold

When receiving emails or messages that say you have won a prize, make sure you check if the message is legitimate first. Some scams will ask for your bank details or personal information for you to claim it.

Get-rich-quick schemes operate in the same way – they will tell you about a great investment opportunity where you only need to bank in a small amount of money to earn big!

Don’t be fooled – especially not if it’s some millionaire that wants to give away his entire fortune to you if you just give him your bank details.

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