Bits and Bytes: How to Spot an Internet Scam
By Zak Wallace
Scams are everywhere these days, and it’s important to pay attention before providing anyone personal information or even your passwords directly!
You may notice posts on Facebook asking you what your favorite food is or what your grandmother’s name is, in disguise. For instance, “Your Grandmother’s name + the last thing you ate = your Movie Star name!” These seem fun to interact with, but in reality, this could be a fake Facebook page pretending to be a radio station, for example, trying to harvest information to try to guess a password you might use. These are more fun with made up info, anyway!
Another scam you may fall victim to on Facebook is a game or quiz which may make you think you have to sign into facebook again. You complete the fun quiz and share it with your friends, but the scammers just got your password and can lock you out, or log on, steal all of your information and create a fake account using your name and likeness!
These are just a new form of “phishing,” which still happens today. An example of phishing is when you get an email pretending to be a service you might actually pay for, asking to reset your password. These emails are only legitimate when you’ve asked to have the email sent to you. Otherwise, it’s important to be careful and review the information of the person who sent it. It might look like Netflix sent you a password reset, but when you look at the email it says something like Netflix@thistotallyisntascam.com (or perhaps even jumbled letters in the email). This is a good way to verify if the email is legitimate or not.
A classic scam is someone emailing you to offer a large sum of cash to you, sometimes making you think you’ve won a sweepstakes. They’ll then say they need to verify your bank information by asking you to deposit a smaller amount than they’re offering, like $50-100 dollars into an account they provide you. Only, they’ll never send you the large sum of cash and have just taken money from you. This more recently is being done in a similar way, offering gift cards, or pretending to be debt collectors who want to consolidate a few of your loans.
When in doubt, check it out!