This post is aimed at helping all of us stay one step ahead of scammers. I’ll briefly discuss what you should watch out for and how to recognise common scam tactics. By being more aware and informed, we can make it harder for scammers to succeed and keep our online experiences safe.
First and foremost…
You are not any less intelligent if you fall for a scam. Scammers are good at what they do and can be clever in their tactics. Do not beat yourself up over this. Just take it as a learning experience and learn from it. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, just that you’ve fallen victim for a moment. It’s okay!
Anyway, it’s important to understand the nature of scams. Scammers often create a sense of urgency or offer something that seems too good to be true. They prey on human emotions—fear, greed, or the desire to be helpful—to manipulate their victims. Therefore, developing a critical eye towards any online transaction is key to safeguarding yourself.
Always verify the website’s URL when money is involved. Scammers often mimic legitimate URLs with slight deviations. Using another company’s name in the URL is a red flag, as company names are typically trademarked, thus rendering them illegal for use by others.
Another clear red flag is the request for payments for intangible, vague, or non-existent goods or services. Legitimate transactions involve clear, trackable exchanges where the purpose of the payment is transparent and justifiable. In contrast, scams often involve convoluted explanations for why a payment is needed, playing on the victim’s lack of knowledge or fear of missing out.
A particularly insidious tactic is the gradual increase in the amount of money requested. This technique plays on the psychological principle of commitment and consistency, where the victim continues to invest in the scam, hoping to eventually gain the promised return. As a rule of thumb, any scenario where you find yourself paying more and more without receiving the promised product or service is a clear indication of a scam.
Many scams are characterised by persistent personal communication. While legitimate businesses might direct you to their website and provide customer service when needed, scammers often use constant, direct communication to build a false sense of trust and urgency. They tailor their language and approach to appeal to individual victims, making it crucial to be wary of overly persistent or personalised sales tactics. This isn’t good customer service, it’s a tactic.
These personal scammers also play on an individual’s ego to manipulate them into falling for their schemes. They use flattery and create scenarios where the person feels special or chosen, suggesting that they alone have been selected for an exclusive opportunity or deal.
They often use various aggressive marketing tactics to trick people into giving away their personal information or money. Some of these tactics include constant pop-ups and emails, creating a sense of urgency or FOMO, flattery, and making grand promises.
For instance, they might send you an email with an attractive offer that seems too good to be true or use a pop-up that claims that you have won a prize that you never entered to win. They might also use emotional triggers to manipulate you, such as fear, excitement, or curiosity, to make you act impulsively.
Alternatively, some sites offer a teaser of free information before gating the rest behind a paywall. This “drug dealer” tactic hooks you with just enough to pique interest, enticing you to pay for more. The real trouble begins when they bombard you with urgent messages and claim you’re missing out and must pay to unlock your full potential.
It is crucial to be sceptical of such high-pressure tactics and take the time to evaluate whether the offer is legitimate and in your best interest. Always verify the source of the message or call and do not share any personal or financial information unless you are sure of the legitimacy of the offer.
Not all terms and agreements are legally enforcable. Even those from legitimate businesses can contain clauses designed to intimidate or mislead users. It’s always wise to consult with someone knowledgeable about contracts if you’re unsure about the terms you’re agreeing to. Remember, not everything presented online should be taken at face value, including the legal consequences websites claim they can hold you accountable to.
In situations where you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a request or offer, it’s prudent to seek advice from independent, trustworthy sources. This can include online forums, consumer protection agencies, or legal advisors. Getting a second opinion from a source not affiliated with the transaction can provide valuable perspective and potentially save you from falling victim to a scam.
If you sense any anger in this post, you are correct. But I’m angry at scammers, not you.
Love to you all.