Like any common crime, online scams follow patterns. If you know how to protect yourself, you won’t be a victim. According to a recent report from Callsign.com, scams are multiplying across the world as more people engage in ecommerce.
The report reveals “the exponential global growth of scams, the role social media plays in proliferating scams, the different definitions and attack vectors used in different geographies, and the impacts on businesses and consumers.”
Some key findings from the report include:
- Social media is a breeding ground for scams: 1 in 3 consumers who were scammed cited social media as the channel it happened on.
- Young people are being scammed more than any other age group: 59% of 19–34-year-olds have fallen for a scam compared to 36% of those over 55
- Global online scams have grown rapidly: In 2021, 40% of consumers had seen a scam message across at least two online communication channels. However, in 2022 that number had increased to 68% – an increase of 70%.
- Social media will proliferate consumer scams: Globally, social media is the top channel where scams occur, and this is only set to grow as more young people get online. Callsign predicts that scam messages on social media channels will continue to rise over the next five years.
How can you set up your own firewall against scams? Acquaint yourself with the various ways fraud hustlers can reach you. They include these seasonal pitches, according to Darius Kingsley, Head of Consumer Business Practices at Chase Bank:
- Holiday Charity Scams: As charitable giving increases around the holidays, more people are potentially at risk to being exploited by fake websites and pushy telemarketers. According to a study from AARP, charity scams are the most common holiday scam. To avoid a charity scam, refrain from donating if a website or caller seeks payment only by wire transfer, gift card or prepaid card.
- Package Delivery Scams: As holiday packages are delivered around the country, scammers send out phishing scam emails disguised as UPS, FedEx
FDXor U.S. Postal Service with a link to view your “missed deliveries.” These links can lead to phony sign-in pages asking for personal information or to websites infected with malware. Don’t reply to an email, phone call or text message that asks you for your personal or financial information, including asking you to send money or cryptocurrencies to avoid a service interruption or to receive your delivery. I got one of these phony texts just yesterday. I didn’t reply.
- Online Shopping Scams: Be sure to make purchases from trusted websites and vendors only. Scammers can extract personal information if you’re not protecting yourself. Steer clear of private sellers with goods for sale at a price that seems too good to be true.
- Gift Card Scams: Gift cards make for the perfect holiday gift and also for an opportunistic scam. Be cautious about buying gift cards from 3rd party sites or cards that have already expired. Buy gift cards directly from the retailer and avoid shopping for discount gift cards through local swap sites. Don’t respond to an unsolicited email or text message offering you a gift card, it’s often a way to track your online activity.
I know little of this is news to anyone using online services. Protect yourself by only dealing with trusted sources and dodge unsolicited emails, texts and social media.