From asking for cellphone load to emailing you about your $10,000 prize money, online scams are aplenty.
Protect yourself from scammers and recognize the warning signs. Here are some important things you need to know so you won’t be a victim.
What are the most common online scams in the Philippines?
Internet Shopping Scams
Shopping online certainly has its benefits. With just your smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can purchase anything you want from different online stores with just a click.
No need to break a sweat, and no need to worry about lugging lots of shopping bags around.
But because you don’t really see the person you’re transacting with, opportunistic people can scam customers into buying bogus items.
Once customers settle their payments, scammers will simply stop responding to follow-up messages regarding customer orders.
Single and ready to mingle? Watch out for people you will meet on dating apps or websites. Not all have pure intentions.
Some will befriend you and profess their love to you, and then run away with your money.
They usually have attractive photos on their profiles, most likely snatched from other people’s social media accounts.
These scammers will play on your emotions and share personal problems with you, even if you’ve only known each other for days. Most of these problems involve sick family members who need money for hospital bills.
They will promise to pay you back as soon as their money comes through. And because you’re already emotionally invested, you will not immediately realize that you’re being scammed.
You will only notice it after you have sent a significant amount of money, and they still have not made any concrete plans to see or be with you in person.
They will suddenly disappear from your life, and any efforts to contact them will be futile.
Impersonation / Social Scams
You get these text messages all the time. Usually it’s your relative living or working abroad, asking if you have received the package they sent. They just need you to confirm that you have, so kindly send them some cellphone load so they can call.
Other times, it’s an email from your bank, telling you that you need to update your account information or your account will be closed permanently.
Some emails come from the Google Play Store, iTunes, Spotify, or Netflix, calling your attention about an unauthorized transaction and to secure your account now.
You will also get emails from the security team of Facebook, notifying you that you have violated the terms of service.
Other times, it can also be emails that have eye-catching subject lines from an international bank in Toronto or in Geneva. They usually inform you about business opportunities that need to be discussed urgently, so click on the link for more information.
Sweepstakes / Raffle Scams
You wish they’re true, because who doesn’t want to win a major prize, right?
This type of online scam will notify you that you won a cash prize from an online contest or electronic raffle, and the message is sent by a lawyer or a DTI representative. You just need to contact them about how you can claim your prize.
There are also lots of bogus Facebook raffles with expensive prizes, encouraging people to like, comment, or share the post.
Some are voucher scams promising free flights, brand new gadgets, or all-expenses paid staycations as an anniversary giveaway.
They usually appear as pop-ups when you’re browsing online. You will then be asked to fill out an online survey where you need to supply your personal information. There’s no prize, but you have unwittingly given your details to scammers.
Scary, right? Don’t worry because there are ways that you can protect yourself from being scammed
Keep your passwords safe and strong
Don’t use passwords that are very obvious and easy to guess. Don’t use birth dates or any numbers that are connected to you. Try not to use your pet’s name as well.
Use a good combination of special characters and uppercase and lowercase letters. Change your passwords often. For online banking, it’s recommended that you don’t use the same passwords for your social media accounts and streaming or subscription services.
Check your browser address bar
Always look at the URL to help you distinguish if a website is secured and protected by an SSL certificate. It should begin with ‘https’, which is an indication that the website’s server is secure and data is encrypted.
Don’t share your personal or financial information on bogus or suspicious looking websites
Check for a trust seal and that it is a legitimate trust seal. When you click a legitimate one, it will usually take you to a verification page that is live and active.
Fake trust seals when clicked on will just be a dead end.
Always log off from websites properly
This applies to people who use computers at internet cafes. Log off your social media accounts and email properly and clear the cache.
If possible, use only your personal devices when doing online banking or shopping.
Bank representatives will never ask for your passwords or OTPs
They will never call you to ask for this information, including your credit card details. Clients are supposed to call the customer service hotline for any account-related enquiries or visit the branch if they need to update anything in their records.
Don’t click on links in suspicious-looking emails
These are phishing emails that trick you to submit sensitive information about your bank account or credit card. They look very legitimate, so before you do anything, you can always call your bank to make sure.
Check the email address of the sender. It may have the logo of PayPal or BPI, but when you click on the sender’s email, it will reveal a regular Yahoo! email address.
Be on the lookout for grammatical errors and misspelled words. Fake emails are often poorly written.
Just because your Facebook friends are sharing it does not mean it’s authentic
Ever see those posts that tug at your heartstrings, usually with a heartbreaking photo of a very sick baby?
These posts have captions such as “one like, one prayer’ or ‘comment with an Amen’. They also promise to match the number of likes and comments with cash donations.
These are ‘like-farming’ tactics that make use of your Facebook interaction to collect personal information and sell them to unscrupulous individuals or businesses. Just stop sharing the post and report.
Never post personal or financial information on social media
This includes company and government IDs, passports, billing statements, and other documents that bear your personal and financial information.
If you must post, blur out the sensitive details and make sure that your privacy settings are not set to public. Take the post down if you no longer need to share it on your feed.
Dispose of your bills, business and legal documents properly
Shred them so they won’t be readable and usable to scammers. You have no idea what lengths these scammers will go to just to have access to your information!
Monitor your banking transactions
Do a daily check so it will be easier for you to monitor if there’s money missing in your account or if there are any transactions that you did not make.
Install antivirus software on your computer
Purchase and install a legitimate antivirus program. There are also free and legit programs that you can download. But be careful with these programs. More often than not, they are riddled with malware and viruses.
If an offer is too good to be true, then it most likely is a scam.
When in doubt, do your own research and verification. Fortify your accounts with strong passwords, and don’t leave your unlocked smartphones or gadgets anywhere.
Should you discover that someone is trying to pull a scam on you, report it immediately.
You can also contact the PNP Anti Cybercrime Group at the following:
Complaint Action Center Hotline: 09985988116
Email: [email protected]