9 Effective Ways To Protect Yourself From Being Scammed

by Scott Bradley · 7 comments

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center Report for 2008, the vast majority of cases reported to the agency that were fraudulent in nature involved a total dollar loss of $264.6 million with a median dollar loss of $931.00 per complaint. This was up from $239.1 million in total reported losses in 2007.

Step back for a minute and think about these numbers for a second. $264.6 million dollars is a ton of money to lose, and I am sure there were many more billions that were lost because most people who were fraudulently scammed never reports.

These numbers and statistics only prove one thing; as the internet continues to grow in size, and as more and more people join the massive network of websites each and every day, scammers are always trying to find new ways to steal our information to use against us.

Know their Tactics and then Protect Yourself

Their goal is simple…steal our identity, important financial information, or personal identification numbers and in the process profit from it fraudulently without any care for the other person whatsoever.

Knowing how to protect yourself from a scammer is important because the more information you know about them and how they operate, the lesser chance you will fall for their dirty tricks and shady ways.

Below are effective things to keep in mind and follow to help you avoid becoming a scam victim.

1. Don’t Open or Click on Spam E-Mails

We all get them. Offers for “enhancement drugs” weight loss supplements and the like. Wasting your time and energy looking through and reading these messages is not only a huge waste of time, but more so, you can never be 100% sure where the e-mail is coming from if you don’t recognize the sender. Clicking the “Junk” button on your e-mail is the best way to handle these messages so you can instead spend more time on messages that you want to read.

2. Avoid Free Give-Away Websites at All Cost

I am sure you have seen ads on websites promising giveaways to free computers, free ipods and/or free Wii entertainment systems. While the offer seems enticing, reading through the fine print at the bottom of the site tells you that they are selling your information to a 3rd party. Now, while some giveaway sites may be legitimate, you would be better off staying away from them at all cost because you can never be 100% sure who is behind the giveaway or even worse, what they will plan to do with your information you will be supplying them. The chances that your information could end up in the hands of a scammer increases dramatically.

3. Be Wary About Sharing Personal Information Over The Phone

If you get a random call from a stranger about some sort of donation for a disaster relief, or if the person claims they are calling from a trusted company, be cautious about sharing any sort of personal information with them until you are 100% confident who you are speaking with is 100% legitimate. We all know that people get scammed this way all the time. As you are speaking to this person, be sure to get all the information you can about them, and cross reference everything through a search online. Don’t “roll over” on the first contact. Let the person know you will contact them if you are interested after doing a background check on the credibility of their company and organization.

4. Don’t Opt-In to Sketchy E-Mail Forms on Shoddy Websites

A good rule of thumb when it comes to opting into an e-mail list is to first figure out who is behind the website and the opt-in form. If you know, like and trust the person or company who is asking for your e-mail, you shouldn’t have any problems. If you don’t know the person or company, but can find and verify their status and credibility by doing a simple google search, then you should be OK. If you come across a website asking for your e-mail without any way to figure out who is behind it, be it a person or a company, I would definitely watch out and steer clear of handing over your e-mail address as you have no clue what will be done with it.

5. Don’t Buy Products From Shoddy Websites

This strategy goes without saying, but it needs to be said. If you are not 100% clear about who owns a website, or it looks like the site was put up in less than 5 minutes, don’t hand your personal information over to them because you never know what may happen to it. A great way to protect yourself is to check the Better Business Bureau or by also using Google to find out more about the company and website.

6. Control Your Privacy Settings On Social Networks

With social networks being all the rage now as the social web continues to expand and grow at a rapid pace, more and more scammers are getting onto these sites with the goal of gaining enough trust with you to then take you for everything you have. The best way to ensure that you don’t get scammed is by controlling who can and cannot see your information on these networks, and by being cautious about who you accept as friends. The term “friend” in the social web is getting grayer and grayer as time moves on, but your personal preference in how you want to manage your social profiles is up to you. Just be careful with what information you put out, as you may later regret it if you share too much.

7. Be Wary Of PayPal E-Mails

If you get an e-mail from Paypal, do not trust what it is saying unless the e-mail addresses you directly (Your full name). More and more of these e-mails are becoming a problem for this company as more scammers try and use the trusted paypal brand to phish for their customers information. If the e-mail is not personally addressed to you by using your name, it is a phishing e-mail and should be sent to spoof@paypal.com so they can take the appropriate action.

8. Change Your Passwords Every Six Months

When you create a password, it is important that you keep it in a safe place and make it something that is hard to guess. No matter what measures you take to make it the most secure, there still is a chance for a scammer/hacker to figure it out down the road. Protect yourself from falling victim to this by changing your passwords at least once every six months. If you feel more comfortable doing it once every month, that’s even better. Having your personal information hacked into is definitely not enjoyable and could not only lead to being scammed and even potentially getting your identity stolen.

9. Be Wary Of E-Mails From Google

If you have an adwords account or some other form of a Google account, always be wary of the forms of communication that you get from them. If the message that is sent to you asks you to login somewhere on their website by first clicking on a link in the e-mail, your information will be at risk. A secure way to handle this is to just log into the website directly from your browser without ever clicking on any links within the company’s email address. If gmail sends you an email asking you to change your password, just go to your favorite browser and type in gmail.com in the address bar. Once you log in, and if the email is legitimate, you will be prompted with the same message.

What About You?

I hope you found all of these tips useful in protecting yourself from getting scammed, and hopefully learned something new. If you have any other tips for readers please leave your responses in the comment section below.

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  • Carol W. says:

    I got scammed this week thru a paypal email. Said “thank you” for your recent purchase of 702.35. I called the number given to say it wasn’t mine and the scam was on, and oh how stupid I felt after they got me for $3,000. Normally I would just have deleted the email, but no something drew me in to call and they had control of my computer and I was the sucker the fell for it. Tell me I am stupid, because I definitely knew better. Never NEVER again. I closed all accounts and am starting fresh.

  • Thomas @Turnkey Consulting says:

    Great post. And the article is very interesting. I had a good time while reading your blog. It is very true that there are many hackers which can steal all the major information including your bank balance in just few seconds and the crime has been increasing day by day. So. it’s our duty to care ourselves. And thanks for sharing the tips on how to get away from all those scam and what are the security that we need to do like changing password and privacy settings on social networking sites.

  • Christina says:

    Great tips, though its pure common sense there are still people who are curious about the offer, though quite too good to be true, some people still respond. Good that you shared this list.

  • @conqueringPF says:

    The other day my debit card number was stolen and used in Florida. I live in Oklahoma. Thieves are getting smarter and smarter. Purchasing online is very dangerous. Purchasing online from your phone is usually a death sentence. If it sounds to be good to be true it is. Remember that phrase and you will be ok.

  • Cd Phi says:

    So many people reveal all their private information on these social media sites like facebook and twitter that they just make it easy for a person to steal their identity if they wanted to. These are great precautions for preventing scams. I will definitely change my password every six months. It’s a hassle but I can say it’ll probably be worth it.

  • John Paul Aguiar says:

    Great tips.. it comes down to common sense, and READ everything.

    Real world safety applies to online, dont share to much info.

  • MoneyNing says:

    Most scammers pray on people who aren’t alert. Email addresses and URLs that look real but are really misspellings, events that seem real but have “fake” written all over it if you spend some time to think.

    Be alert, don’t make decisions on the spot and never be greedy are probably the three easiest ways to avoid all scams.

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