Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, which means there will probably be lots of lonely hearts on the internet. Sadly, there are lots of people that would want to bank in on that fact. Valentine’s Day is actually the biggest day out for online scammers. They would either want to woo you by offering attention when you’re lonely. Or they would pretend to be your significant other and want to exploit you.
We’ve done a post on online scams before, but in light of Valentine’s Day, let’s go over it again so we don’t fall prey to malicious users.
Scams Have Many Different Faces
The thing is, an online scam can come to you in many different forms. It could be a popup ad, or an email or a Facebook message. But almost every time, they’d be about one of these things:
- A work-at-home job
- A ‘you just won $1 mil, click here to claim your prize’ scam
- A dating, ‘meet singles in your area’ ad
- A ‘I’m in desperate need of help’ message
- A phishing scam
Of course fraudulent ads will come to you in other forms as well, but these are the most common ones.
Are Scams Harmful?
Of course they are! They are digital con artists out to exploit you. And they will harm you through
- Financial theft (when you give away credit card information, send money online)
- Identity theft (when you give away personal information like social security numbers)
- Malware when you click on their ads
Scams are designed for exploitation, and lonely hearts on V-Day are the easiest prey.
How to Identify Online Scams
You need to be smart and vigilant enough to recognize the difference between fakers and real deals. You just need to know these few simple rules.
The Click-and-Drag rule
Notice when you are downloading a file off the internet that there are a million buttons that say ‘download’ and you can never get to the right one? Click and drag a download button. If you can drag the image, it is an ad. If it is not drag-able, it’s the real button. This works with most ads.
The ‘Too Good to be True’ rule
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Why would anyone want to give a random stranger on the internet $1 million? If there is a sweepstake involved, it is definitely a scam.
Avoid clicking on ads like these. Source: Softpedia
The Plain Text rule
To avoid phishing scams, read your emails in plain text. Scams that try to look legitimate are mostly clickable images.
Here’s what a plain text email should look like. Source: Webappers
The Credit Card rule
Only use well-known platforms to buy/sell stuff or date online. Otherwise, don’t give away your credit card information to anyone, anywhere. Your proper bank/social media/online marketplace accounts will hardly ever need to confirm your credit card information.
The Ad block rule
Just get a simple ad block on your browser. You are going to reduce your chances of being scammed by… a lot. You can get these extensions on your browsers for free.
Just know never to give away personal information to anyone you talk to online or when filling out online forms no matter how ‘serious business’ they sound. You can end up in all sorts of trouble if you give away this stuff. Online safety first!