Emerging financial scams in 2021 and how to avoid them

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cti

You’ll be surprised by how cunning cyber criminals can be to trick you and steal your money. From pretending to be government officials to creating fraudulent websites, con artists use various methods to prey on their victims. They have always been very flexible in creating scams in response to current happenings. 

For instance, The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) reported a scam when targets received fake text messages from the NHS saying that they were eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine. The message carried a link and clicking on it took the victim to a bogus website designed to look like a genuine NHS platform. It gave fraudsters access to the victims’ details that they provided voluntarily. 

Thus, criminals are comfortable exploiting various situations. Even those that have caused havoc worldwide are right up their alley. Financial scams, for the most part, remain to be one of the most popular. After all, most hackers are after monetary gain. Be it access to accounts or personal information they can sell; everything is an option for them. Here is an update on the emerging financial scams in 2021 and ways to protect yourself. 

Online shopping scams

A very common trick to target people is shopping scams. The pandemic saw the demand for facemasks and sanitizers shoot up. Fraudsters exploited this situation by offering various items on sophisticated-looking retail websites. Some of these sites even featured logos of reputable vendors. After placing the order, a victim would receive either a fake product or nothing at all. There have also been worse incidences where fraudsters stole money after unsuspecting users entered their card details. 

To protect yourself, carry out enough research on the vendor you’re buying from and check their return and privacy policies. Look for reviews from other customers who have used the website to make purchases. Even if you find quite a few positive reviews, consider the possibility of them being fake. Also, be very cautious if you find the vendor seeking too much personal information. 

Tax scams

It’s the tax season in various countries. Thus, many tax-related scams tend to surface. However, these scams may still occur at any time of the year. There are various tactics used by fraudsters for carry out tax scams. 

Sending phishing emails to unsuspecting victims and impersonating local tax authorities is one way to go. The end goal here is to extract sensitive personal and financial details for committing identity theft later on. Another method is to scare you with false information saying that your tax is overdue for which you’ll face penalties or telling a victim that they have entered incorrect tax returns. The latter strategies typically hope to catch targets off guard. Then, they are more likely to comply with the demands. 

Safeguarding against tax scams is easier when you adhere to the secure ways of browsing online. When you receive an email supposedly from the local tax authority, the most obvious safety measure to take is to contact the local tax authorities themselves. If you receive a call threatening action for unpaid tax returns, you should stay firm and demand to know the caller’s name and identification details, which you can later verify with the tax authorities. Also, bear in mind that reliable institutions won’t require you to reveal Social Security Numbers (SSNs) or other highly personal details. If they do, the phone call or message is a part of a scam. 

One effective way to avoid online scams is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Atlas VPN can block access to potentially dangerous websites while also keeping your connection to the internet safe. Having a VPN also protects you by hiding your IP address and establishing an encrypted connection between your device and the server. Additionally, hackers won’t be able to intercept your connection to steal personal details. Using a VPN is especially crucial if you frequently use public Wi-Fi to perform various online activities. 

Account takeover

Account takeover is a criminal posing as you and gaining control over your account to make unauthorized transactions without your knowledge. Essentially, it’s online identity theft. It involves the fraudster entering your stolen details and using them to transfer your money to other accounts. The criminals may also change the login credentials of your account to deny you access. Moreover, your details may also be sold to other criminals. 

You can keep yourself protected by using biometrics like fingerprint unlock on Android devices or Touch ID on iPhones. Using these protection mechanisms gives you a shield to defend yourself against account takeover attempts by denying easy access to fraudsters. 

New account fraud

This method of fraud involves fraudsters using your stolen credentials and opening accounts in your name. A fraudster may access your sensitive information (for example, they might buy it on the dark web) and use it to get past checks verifying your identity to open a new loan account. 

To protect yourself, be very careful about revealing your personal information. Additionally, make it a rule to reveal as little as possible to digital services. In many cases, the sold credentials and other personal details are available due to data breaches. In such cases, companies are the ones responsible for the fallout. Thus, before becoming a client of a specific company, try to find information on how they keep their customers’ data safe.  

Conclusion

Unfortunately, cybercrime is here to stay. Thus, protect yourself by staying vigilant at all times. Of course, even the most experienced cybersecurity specialists tend to make mistakes. Luckily, you can apply various protective measures to limit the possibility of being scammed. For instance, you could avoid email messages from unknown sources. A VPN will help you stay safe on any website, even those that continue using HTTP. Finally, you can stay informed about the latest news in the industry. Knowledge is power, and by knowing the common tricks fraudsters use, you get to avoid them.