• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Here’re 8 tips to protect yourself from online scam

Here’re 8 tips to protect yourself from online scam

When Deola wanted to buy an item recently, she headed to Instagram, as many of us tend to. A few hours of browsing later, she found a vendor who sold the brand item that matched her budget.

After finalising the mode and details of payment, she transferred N105,000 to the account number she was given. And the wait began. At first, she got a plethora of excuses explaining the delay in delivery. Then, silence. All efforts to reach the vendor on the platform and other contact details were futile. That is when she realised, she had been scammed.

Read also: Online scams: No Go Fall Maga, Confam Am Again Bankers Committee Takes a Stand

Deola is one of numerous Nigerians who have been victims of fraud perpetrated by their compatriots over the years. Many have lost their valuables to various fraudulent schemes. Yet, it has only worsened recently, with scammers becoming increasingly sophisticated in their tactics and targeting more victims than ever.

A 2023 Online Scams in Africa Report by KnowBe4 reveals that more Nigerians are falling victim to online fraud through social media. The report says that fake investments, cryptocurrencies and NFT scams, brand impersonation, information theft, online shopping scams, and phoney job offers dominate the fraud scene.

These fraudulent activities continue to thrive for various reasons, including their tendency to exploit human vulnerabilities, manipulate emotional weaknesses, and leverage the global nature of the internet to target victims.

The ease of faking online identities, low-cost phishing tools, and the increasing sophistication of malware also contribute to the success of scams. In Nigeria specifically, factors such as poverty and unemployment contribute to the vulnerability of individuals to fall prey to get-rich-quick schemes and investment frauds, which have enjoyed prevalence in recent times.

Expectedly, there has been a lot of hue and cry on social media and other forums about fraudsters’ growing online and offline activities.

While the Nigerian government continues to make several moves to ensure a drop in the number of victims of fraud, there is no doubt that more focused action is required to empower the populace against those evil perpetrators. But there are steps we can take individually while we wait for that to materialise.

Learn as much as you can about scams

Seeking relevant education is the foundation for protecting oneself from falling victim to scams. Learn about the common online and offline tactics fraudsters use to deceive people. There is a lot of information online about phishing emails, fake websites, and social engineering tactics that can help you get started. Also, keep an eye on the news and community gatherings for the latest developments in offline scamming techniques.

Use strong passwords and 2FA

The online world has reduced our lives to a litany of usernames and passwords. Keeping them strong and safe can make the ultimate difference in protecting our data from fraudsters. Use strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or “password123.” Wherever possible, enable Two Factor Authentication, which adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of authentication (usually a code sent to your phone) in addition to your password.

Read also: Scammers: How Rob stole Sammie heart and more than £10,000

Download a reliable caller ID app

A reliable caller ID app is one of the best ways to protect yourself from falling victim to scammers. These apps help you identify unknown callers and potential scammers by providing real-time information about incoming calls. You’ll know whether a number is associated with spam or fraud, allowing you to act accordingly. Globally, many people have found Truecaller to be a worthy ally in this regard. The app, originally designed to identify callers, has since been transformed into a crime-fighting tool in response to increasing incidents of fraud.

In addition to its primary caller ID function, Truecaller allows users to block spam calls and text messages, organize their messages and even send and receive messages in-app. One of the latest additions to the app is its AI-powered call recording feature, which allows for cloud-based recording for both incoming and outgoing calls within the app automatically. With this new feature, you can also generate a transcription and summary of your calls. With secure features like these, one can, to a great degree, keep oneself and one’s loved ones safe.

Beware of unsolicited emails and messages

A significant percentage of online scams begin with unsolicited emails and messages. Be skeptical of them. Scammers often impersonate banks, government agencies, or trusted companies via email or text. Be cautious when receiving unsolicited messages. Only click links or download attachments if you are sure of their legitimacy.

Don’t give out personal details over the phone

Many people have been defrauded because they gave out personal details on a phone call. No legitimate organization will ask for sensitive information like your account number, BVN, NIN or card details via unsolicited calls. So, the next time you receive a call from a stranger claiming to be from your bank, don’t give anything away.

Update your device apps and software regularly

Ensure your gadgets, apps and software are updated regularly. These updates often include security patches that protect against known vulnerabilities. Social media platforms are fertile ground for scammers to gather information. You can limit your exposure by screening the personal information you share publicly. Also, be cautious when accepting friend requests or messages from unknown individuals.

Doublecheck when making online transactions

When making online transactions requiring sensitive information, always check the website’s URL before filling in your data. Look for “https://” and a padlock icon in the address bar, and avoid clicking on links from unknown sources.

Read also: NSCDC parades fake investors, job scammers in Kogi

Report scams and scammers

Many scams continue to thrive because victims do not report them. If you encounter a scam, report it to the appropriate authorities. In Nigeria, you can contact the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Nigerian Police Force. Caller ID apps like Truecaller also come in handy here as they will flag or tag their contact as a scammer when you receive scam calls, so ensure to activate your Truecaller app. If someone tries to scam you, report them, as this helps prevent others from falling victim to the same scams.

Ultimately, the problem of scams in Nigeria is complex, requiring a multi-faceted approach, including increased regulation and enforcement and improved education and awareness among the general public. By working together, we can help end this scourge and protect the most vulnerable members of our society.