Scammers aren’t very nice people, in case you didn’t already know. They’re constantly taking advantage of the uninformed, seizing every opportunity to con a poor soul into revealing their personal details. One of their most common tactics are to take advantage of major events that draw people to their computers, like in this case – Hurricane Irene that’s scheduled to strike tomorrow. Fortunately there’s a solution to the problem of scammers, and it’s called information.
The folks over at Security News Daily have written up a post with advice on how to deal with scammers, and we felt that it was worth sharing with our readers as well. Here’s a rundown of the advice they gave in their comprehensive article.
Don’t automatically trust your friends: just because a Facebook/Twitter friend sends you a link doesn’t mean it is safe. For all you know, your friend’s computer may have been hijacked by a Trojan which is why he/she is sending you links in the first place. These links are usually disguised with shortened URLs and sensational descriptions – like a few months ago, there were malware links taking advantage of Osama Bin Laden’s death – you can expect the same sort of links to pop up with titles related to Hurricane Irene.
A picture is worth 1,000 scams: again, similar to the previous point, except this time it’s more widely circulated through email and miscellaneous websites. Usually if you want to view these hard to believe photographs or videos, you’ll have to answer a survey which involves divulging a lot of personal information that scammers can use for malicious purposes. With the hurricane arriving, you can expect to see a lot of links to photos and footage of destruction or incredible sights i.e. a whale stuck in a building popping up. As usual, be smart about it. Make sure you visit reputable websites for information, and not just any random site you see. Chances are, if it hasn’t been covered by a major news network, it’s probably fake.
Watch where you donate: this might seem obvious to a lot of people, but you’d be surprised at how often people end up getting conned. After major disasters, a lot of legitimate-looking websites pop up asking for donations to help the cause. Of course, instead of using the money to help rebuild homes or purchase food for victims, these scammers that set up the website pocket the money for their own use, and don’t be surprised if they disappear along with their websites after they’ve collected enough money or they’re close to being busted. As usual, head straight to the charity you want to reach out to. Don’t go through some third party site, organization or stranger online. If you’re interested in donating to charity, the least you can do is put a little effort into making sure the money is going to the right places. A little research can go a long way.
Are there any other tips that are missing from this article? Feel free to contribute in the comments below and share this page around. You never know who you might end up helping.