Scammer Tips Part 1

By Rachael Lovette


Among all the cute cat videos and delicious food photos on the internet, there’s also something not so delightful: scammers! From email and text messages to direct messages and profiles, there are many people that will try to take advantage of you.


Be skeptical. Very skeptical


We’ve always heard “never judge a book by its cover,” but this is one instance where that saying definitely shouldn’t apply. If people can use new forms of communication and interaction to send messages, scammers will try to use those same new platforms to scam you. So we’re here to give you some tips to keep you safe on and offline.


Email


Red Flags to Look Out For:

  1. Subject line demands urgent or immediate action (asks for money, personal information, address, bank account information, birth date, etc.)

  2. Emails that appear to come from a familiar source (Netflix, Bank, etc.) but it’s not the email address you usually use

  3. Odd or unfamiliar senders

  4. Starts with “Dear User”

  5. Blatant (and not so blatant) spelling and grammar mistakes

  6. Asks you to text/email them for more info because the content was sparse-this could be a scam

If You’re Suspicious of the email:

  • Don’t click on any of the links, reply to the message, or download any items.

  • Even if the link looks legitimate, it could always be a phishing link in disguise. Always go to the company’s website by entering the correct URL in your browser and searching for the information

  • Don’t let their words scare/threaten you into providing personal information.

  • If you’re not sure what to do, it’s always okay to ask someone you trust, such as a parent, friend, etc and they can help you come to a safe solution

  • Check the legitimacy of the business and/or its website on Better Better Business Bureau (bbb.org)

  • Forward the email to spam@uce.gov and then delete it

Stay vigilant -- email scammers change their tactics regularly. Your best defense against phishing attacks is to be alert and on the lookout at all times.


Social Media


In a world where anonymity, bullying, and catfishing are common, scams prey on social media users’ sympathy, fear, or greed.


Red Flags to Look Out For:

  • Messages asking you to “give” something, such as bank account information, try to cold-sell you something, or ask for other personal info

  • Friend requests or follows from someone you don’t know with no profile photo, no name or posts

  • Comment from an individual telling you to message their official brand account

  • Offer to send you free followers or likes

  • People asking you for money who you don’t know in person

  • People asking you to send them money or gift cards to receive a loan, prize or other winnings

  • Accounts representing large companies, organizations or public figures that are not verified

  • People claiming to be from Instagram security asking you to provide account information (like your username or password), or offering you account verification services

  • People asking you to move your conversation off Instagram to a less public or less secure setting, such as a separate email

  • People claiming to have a friend or relative in an emergency

  • People who misrepresent where they are located

  • Messages that appear to come from a friend or a company you know that ask you to click on a suspicious link

  • Messages or posts with poor spelling and grammatical mistakes

  • People or accounts asking you to claim a prize


If You’re Suspicious of the account, direct message, or comment:

  • If you see something you think is a scam, you should avoid responding and report the scam to Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/192435014247952

  • Always search for official accounts before responding to messages.

Text Message

You probably will receive a spam text message at least once in your life. It happens because your number was accessed by a person or company who you did not give consent to contact you.


Red Flags to Look Out For:

  1. Text messages from an abnormally long phone number or shortcode (Normal is 10 digits or less)

  2. Text messages from a random number claiming a family member are in crisis and they need to send money

  3. Text messages claiming you’ve been overcharged for a service and a refund is due

  4. Ask for personal information such as bank accounts, date of birth, last four of social, address, etc.

  5. Text messages claiming you’ve won a random prize including cash and material goods


If You’re Suspicious of the text:

  • If the message is clearly from a scammer, don’t reply to them at all

  • Reply STOP as you would to a legitimate company sending you offers or SMS messages to opt-out

  • Report scammers or spammers to the appropriate authorities

  • Report the fraud to your cell phone carrier

  • Delete the text

Rachael Lovette is an accounts executive specializing in no-BS articles for creatives, an advocate for model safety, and a pop culture buff. Check out her Instagram.

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