How to detect phone scams and fight against them?
In the modern world, the distinction between our digital and real lives is minute. And mobile phones are one of the chief reasons behind this increased fluidity. As smartphones grow in importance, scams centered around them have also seen an uptick. Avoiding such scams is now part of our daily routine. Before you become a victim of the latest mobile scam, read this.
Older people are the most common victims
Modern-day mobile phone scams start with a text or call. The increase in popularity of WhatsApp has made it another favorite means for scammers to reach potential victims. Older folks are usually the favorite target of scammers. But some scams are elaborate enough to put even the most knowledgeable and tech-savvy among us in a loop. Our advice: be suspicious of everything.
Scammers disguise themselves as 'essential services'
Scammers usually disguise themselves as essential services. Messages or calls from banks, credit card companies, electricity boards, telephone networks—the list goes on! Their guise as these services is often enough to make people believe in their scams. If you follow their instructions, you will land on websites that would resemble official sites. Then, they either steal your money or bank and credit/debit card credentials.
Look out for any red flags
As elaborate as they could be, mobile scams are not undetectable. You can always sniff out the obvious ones with the spelling/grammar mistakes scammers make in the texts they send. Always check the website URL provided in the texts. On calls, if the person is persistent about something, it's a red flag. If you see even one red flag, think no more—it's a scam!
Do not make payments upon requests from unknown numbers
If you get a call or text from an unknown number asking you to make a payment, be wary of it being a scam. Could that be a genuine one? Of course, it can be. You can always verify their veracity by asking the right questions. To ask the right questions, however, you have to begin from a place of suspicion.
Avoid texts or calls with no details
If you get a call/text from an essential service or bank that sounds vague, it could be a scam. Scam texts/calls are usually devoid of many details. In such cases, ensure you ask more questions or visit the official website of the concerned service (not the link they send you). If it looks like it could've been sent by someone else, it's a scam.
Don't trust calls or texts with an aggressive tone
Scammers are often aggressive and pushy. If the person insists you do what they tell you, just end the call. They may even threaten you with extreme consequences if you don't follow their instructions. But worry not. Just tell them that you will settle the issue in person. If you want to, you can even provoke them.
Do not make any downloads
Lastly, if someone asks you to download an app, say no. Scammers usually ask users to download remote desktop apps such as AnyDesk or TeamViewer. If you do so, they will gain access to your bank/card details. Therefore, don't make any downloads. Also, just stay away from any messages containing any links. You won't know where you end up if you click on them.
It will be hard to get the money back
It is important that you pay attention to these red flags. Scam calls or texts are at an all-time high now, and you could easily be the next potential victim. If you fall for such scams, it will be very hard to get your money back. The numbers these scammers use are usually untraceable. Therefore, you should be very careful.
Special thanks to Lavanya Mohan for her detailed view into phone-related scams on Twitter and her blog Pennmoney.