So, how are you using the internet? What are you doing online? Are you watching videos, sharing photos, maybe doing your homework, some shopping, buying tickets? Probably, you’re doing most of these things. But not everything on the internet is what it seems. People can easily pretend to be someone else. They can pose as a store or even a bank.
There are scammers lurking about and they know exactly what you want and what you’re prepared to pay. And that’s exactly what they’ll offer you. At least, it’s what they pretend to offer, because everyone on the internet can say whatever they like.
Here are some true stories that really happened and they might happen to you as well. A well-known casting agency recently put out an ad offering an acting workshop and many young people signed up for it. They paid over 100 euros. But it soon became clear that the casting agency had nothing to do with the advertisement. Scammers had hijacked its name and all the money had gone into their account.
Young people often receive offers to ‘earn some quick money’. The only thing they need to do is to allow their bank card and PIN to be used in exchange for some money. People who do this are called ‘money mules’. Scammers use the accounts of these money mules to transfer money obtained through criminal means. If you are found aiding and abetting these scammers, you will not be treated as a victim but rather as an accessory to fraud. This can get you into real trouble: you may not be able to open a bank account for years or even get a criminal record.
Figures show that young people in particular are vulnerable to scams when they shop online. This often happens through ads on Instagram or other social media. The people behind these accounts usually cannot be traced after they have taken the money for something you ordered, but will never get delivered. So, what to do?Different tricks are used for different types of fraud. By the same token, there are different tips for different scams. And scammers always tend to adopt, adapt and improve their tricks. But if you remember to do the following three things when shopping online, you may come a long way to protect yourself from fraud.
3. And double-check.
Why not wait 15 minutes before making that online payment? Why do you think are those shoes 30 euros cheaper at that particular shop, and only at that shop? Why are they selling smartphones on a website called www.handkerchiefs.nl? Use your common sense: is it realistic that you can earn 1000 euros without really making any effort? Is that payment hyperlink really correct? On this page we explain why reading a URL may not be as easy as it looks.
If you are going to pay for a workshop or spend your savings on a new phone, then please check the store where you’re going to order them. Is the contact address correct (check Google Maps) and can they be contacted by phone? Is the label really a quality mark or just an image nicked online? Some degree of healthy suspicion might prevent you from falling victim to scams.
- And double-check:
And even if you think you’ve checked everything, please go over it one more time. Because once you’ve paid your money, you may not get anything in return.