Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

Photo credits: how to avoid fraud via unsplash, scaled

WEST CHESTER, PA. (Nov. 14, 2022) — You received an email from your favorite store one day about a special discount on something you wanted. At first, you think, “Why would a store discount an item only for me?”

Clicking on the link, you see the website is not what your favorite store’s website typically looks like, but it is from them, so you assume it is safe to visit. Except it is not.

Thinking you purchased something online at a discount, you check your bank account only to find that all your money is gone, not just what they wanted from you.

It is at that moment that you realize: you have been scammed.

International Fraud Awareness Week raises concerns about the problem millions face every day, whether they know it or not: fraud.

As online shoppers bask in the Black Friday discounts, millions are getting their credit, debit, or gift cards ready, punching in the numbers and getting the gifts they want for the holiday season. However, they are also extra cautious with what they see online as Black Friday lurks around the corner.

Businesses, ranging from conglomerates to small businesses, deal with fraud daily.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are many ways scammers will try to win you over.

Scammers often scare you into believing something as true, such as “tell[ing] you that something terrible is about to happen to get you to send a payment before you have a chance to check out their claims.”

They can also disguise themselves as someone they know, such as their co-worker or boss.

According to Vermont Attorney General Susanne R. Young, tech support centers are the most common form of scam calls.

The tech support scammers will often call you regarding payments you must make, typically something you did not order, especially online. According to the Attorney General, tech support centers will never contact you unless you request them to.

The tech support scammers will often claim that your computer has a virus when they are trying to give you malware themselves. They will also usually charge you for services, which will never happen in a genuine tech support center.

Something similar can also exist in the form of a “robocall,” which, when “trying to sell you something, is illegal unless the company trying to sell you something got written permission, directly from you, to call you that way.”

The FTC recommends discussing with your coworkers about scams and what to do if you believe you may be a victim of one and has a printable brochure available on their website to share with your coworkers.

At home, another tactic of fraud exists, known as “phishing,” which the National Institute of Standards and Technology defines as “a technique for attempting to acquire sensitive data, such as bank account numbers, through a fraudulent solicitation in email or on a web site, in which the perpetrator masquerades as a legitimate business or reputable person.”

Thankfully, there are clues to determine what is fake from legitimate in a phishing email.

The FTC states that while reputable companies email you about anything important, they will not text you. If they do email you, the legitimate email will never have a link unless confirming an account you know you created.

Another vital clue to look out for is their email address, known as “spoofing.” Always check to ensure that the email address is legitimate by clicking on the sender’s name; if it is not, disregard it.

If you are still trying to determine whether the email address used is legitimate, contact the actual company to confirm.

The Boy Scouts of America gives out important safety information on the web in their handbook.

  • “Don’t respond to messages or Web sites that you know are meant only for adults or that make you feel uneasy.”
  • “Don’t share personal information such as your address, telephone number, school name, or your parent’s work address or telephone number. Never send photos via the Internet without your parent’s information.”
  • “Never meet anyone who has contacted you online unless your parent or guardian goes with you.”

An app you can use to fight robocalls is Robokiller, which filters out spam phone calls from your contacts. Although it has a $4.99 monthly subscription to eliminate “99%” of all scam calls, Robokiller is generally a free-to-use app.

Robokiller can leave out the guesswork and fight scammers for you in a hilarious way with their pre-recorded Answer Bots. However, the app also takes unknown callers through a screening process to differentiate between legitimate and fake numbers, so you may end up being contacted anyway if they pass it.

Nevertheless, Robokiller is one of many ways to fight scam calls, texts and fraudulent emails. When shopping online for that valuable gift you want this holiday season, remember to know where you are getting this item from, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


Benjamin Slomowitz is a fourth-year media and culture major. bs968158@wcupa.edu

           

Sources:

  • “Business Email Imposters.” Business Email Imposters | Federal Trade Commission, Federal Trade Commission, https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/small-businesses/cybersecurity/business. 
  • Hebert, Amy, et al. “How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams.” How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams | Consumer Advice, Federal Trade Commission, 25 Oct. 2022, https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams.
  • Hebert, Amy, et al. “Robocalls.” Consumer Advice, 8 June 2022, https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/robocalls. 
  • Dixon Jr., Ret. ).Judge Herbert B. “Scams Against Lawyers, Professionals, and Other Ordinary People.” Judges’ Journal, vol. 61, no. 3, Summer 2022, pp. 37–39. EBSCOhost, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=shib&db=asn&AN=158092204&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
  • “Leadership.” Scout: The Boy Scout Handbook: A Guide to Adventure, a Guide for Life, 12th ed., Boy Scouts of America, Irving, TX, 2009, p. 51. 
  • “Phishing – Glossary: CSRC.” Phishing – Glossary | CSRC, National Institute of Standards and Technology Computer Security Resource Center, https://csrc.nist.gov/glossary/term/phishing. 
  • “Scams and Your Small Business: A Guide for Business.” Scams and Your Small Business: A Guide for Business | Federal Trade Commission, Federal Trade Commission, 24 July 2020, https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/scams-your-small-business-guide-business. 
  • Young, Susanne R. “Top 10 Scams of 2021 Released by the Attorney General’s Office.” Top 10 Scams of 2021 Released by the Attorney General’s Office – Office of the Vermont Attorney General, Office of the Vermont Attorney General, 12 Jan. 2022, https://ago.vermont.gov/blog/2022/01/12/top-10-scams-of-2021-released-by-the-attorney-generals-office/. 

 

 

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