FRAUD HELP DESK

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19 Jul 2017
Five signs that you may be vulnerable to scammers

Are you easy prey for scammers? There are different personality traits or circumstances that put you at a higher risk of falling victim to fraud. Fraud Help Desk lists five key factors:

  1. You’re a bargain hunter

Are you always looking for a special bargain on online shopping malls such as Marktplaats.nl? And would you rather book a holiday home through an unknown website if it saves you a few dozen euros? If so, you may be an easy target for scammers. By offering rock-bottom prices, fraudsters lure many bargain hunters into their traps. Remember, use your common sense and never let yourself be misled by bargains or special offers that are simply too good to be true.

  1. You’re a person in need

If you are looking for company, don’t forget that scammers are almost jockeying for position to fleece you out of your money.  Clever con artists pretend they are someone else and smooth-talk their way to the vulnerable hearts of lonely people. As soon as victims become dependent on their online lovers, the scammers start asking for money. This type of scam includes dating fraud.

Fortunately, many people smell a rat when someone presents himself as a US servicemen. But sometimes loneliness can make people unable to think straight, and this could have far-reaching consequences.

Being short of funds, in other words facing financial hardship, can also make people vulnerable to scammers. It can throw them into the hands of fake money lenders, particularly if they have a bad credit-rating with the Central Credit Registration Office (BKR). The trouble becomes serious when these cash-strapped victims start lending money to repay other debts. Scammers will demand a large advance payment before giving these people another loan. Of course, their victims will never get the loan.

  1. You’re careless when it comes to internet security

You believe in freedom and see the internet as a free and open medium for which you don’t need a virus scanner or other sort of security. You’re a sort of online hippie, and scammers love you: they happily install malicious software on your computer which will give them free rein  to access your bank account, for example. Usually, you will find out when it’s too late and your bank account has been emptied.

Scammers may also install ransomware, encrypting your files and making your precious photographs and other important documents inaccessible. Access will only be restored after you have paid a ransom. At least, that’s what they say. Paying up often doesn’t solve anything. In many cases, victims don’t receive the promised decryption code. They end up having lost their money and their documents.

Our advice: enjoy all the internet has to offer, but be realistic: make regular back-ups and keep your software up to date.

  1. You’re in a dip

Many people who fall victim to scams are facing a difficult period. Sometimes it’s just a couple of days and caused by a sudden excessive workload. Others may be mourning the loss of their partner, a process that could take several years. Because these people are having a hard time, they will simply not accept the idea that they might be dealing with a scammer. They dispel obvious red flags that indicate that a story doesn’t make full sense.

Afterwards, when they realize they’ve been scammed, many victims will say: ‘I just needed some fun. I ignored all clues that the story they told me was fake.”

Its important for people who’re looking for company on the internet not to get isolated from the people around them. Try not to pass any judgement if someone you know starts dating online. Encourage a discussion or a friendly chat about the matter. Emphasize that you would like to see your friend happy, but also pinpoint the lies in the con artist’s fantasy story.

  1. You always believe in the goodness of others

Confidence in others is like a social lubricant. Unfortunately, believing in the goodness of others also has a drawback: it makes you highly vulnerable to scammers.

Of course, the solution is not to distrust everyone immediately. But a healthy dose of suspicion doesn’t  hurt. But remember: there are always scammers lurking around looking  for easy prey.

So, if a person claiming to be Microsoft cold-calls you to say something is wrong with your PC, or if you receive an email about money you are due, please use your brains: ask yourself if that story can be true. Hang up the phone and give yourself some time to digest what the caller has said. And should you receive an email that you may find slightly odd, never respond rashly and ask someone else to have a look at the message.

Photo © Geoff Sowrey/Flickr.comCC BY-NC 2.0.