The eParent’s Guide to Avoiding Online Scams

online-scams

You know those advertisement pages in newspapers that quite literally scream ‘place your ad here’. That’s the internet. But exactly like that page filled with people selling stuff, some ads are going to be the real thing; others are going to be scams. But’s here’s the reality: scams on the internet cause more damage, especially because it is your kids that are at the other end of the fraud. Simply speaking, children have a higher propensity to be scammed.

The Many Faces of a Scam

Online scams will come to you in lots of different forms. Usually, they come up as popup ads, a message on a Facebook chat, or through emails. But 90% of the time, they take one of these faces:

  • A high paying work from home job
  • The old ‘you just won $1 million, click here to collect’ ad
  • The ‘meet singles in your area’ dating ad
  • The sympathy bait, ‘I desperately need help’ message or email
  • Phishing scams

This is not to say that fraudulent ads won’t present themselves in any other way. But these are the most common tricks that people on the internet fall for.

Can Scams Harm You?

Of course they can! Think of scams as con artists, except they don’t have a name or a face so they are far more dangerous. They can harm you by

  • Financial theft (they can intercept your credit card information, or convince you to send money)
  • Identity theft (they might ask you to give away social security numbers, ID, and the like)
  • Malware that spreads by clicking on the ad

Scams are, by nature designed to exploit. And if adults can fall for these, imagine how easy it would be to fool a kids.

How Can I Identify an Online Scam?

You, the experienced adult could probably differentiate the pretenders from the contenders but your kids can’t. And let’s be honest, most adults can do it, either. In any case, let me give you a few tips on what rules you need to teach your kids.

The Click-and-Drag Test

You know how when you’re downloading a file from a webpage that happens to have 20 ‘download’ buttons and you can never tell which the real one is? Here’s what you do. Click and drag each download button. If the ‘ghost image’ drags, the button is fake. If you can’t drag it, it’s the right one.

Source: How to Geek

Fake download buttons are the easiest click bait. Source: How to Geek

The ‘Too Good to be True’ Test

If the offer in the ad seems fleeting, that’s because it is. Why on earth would anyone want to hand a random person an entire $1 million? Sweepstakes on the internet are mostly scams.

Source: Softpedia

Avoid clicking on ads like these. Source: Softpedia

The Plain Text Trick

Here’s the best way to avoid phishing scams in your inbox: read all your emails in plain text. Most of the time scams that are pretending to be legitimate will be clickable images.

Source: Webappers

Here’s what a plain text email should look like. Source: Webappers

The Credit Card Rule

Always use well-known websites or apps to make transactions. Otherwise, don’t ever fill any form that requires you to enter your credit card information. Try using the incognito mode on your browser when making a transaction. Legitimate social media platforms, banks or online marketplaces wouldn’t need to confirm your information over and over.

Source: Silicon Republic

A phishing scam pretending to be Tesco. Source: Silicon Republic

Use Ad Block

Honestly, getting a simple ad block for your browser is going to solve most of scam-related problems. These extensions are generally free, but so, so useful.

Source: OS China

Get rid of all the ads altogether. Source: OS China

Educate Your Children

Be the responsible digital parent and talk to your kids about scams, how to identify and avoid them. Be sure they never share personal information with anyone online. A good Parental monitoring app will help you keep on top of things. At the same time, tell them never to fill online forms that require that you give away your house address or credit card number. Online safety first!

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