Yes, that cash prize you were desperately claiming was not a lottery, that was a scam. That ‘get your free iPhone 14’ call was not your luck, that was a scam. Your bank’s KYC was not expired, you were getting scammed. The number you dialed to fix your phone or laptop was not the authentic Service center, that was a fake call center to scam you.
Tech scams are at their peak and a huge number of people are getting scammed every single day. People are losing a lot of money because of their negligence. You can stop this and you don’t need technical skills for that. Just basic education and you are good to go.
Here is how to protect yourself from tech scams. Scams not only affect you at a personal level but also affect your family, your future, your confidence, and the mental health of people around you. It is high time to get some basic education on how to protect yourself from these tech scams.
Here in this article, we are going to give you everything you should know to protect you from such tech scams in the future. If you ever get scammed, feel free to share your story in the comments.
See Also: What is Dark Web & How to Access it?
Why Tech Scams are on the Rise?
Out of all other countries, India is a country where people face the most scams. Out of every 10 people, 7 have faced some kind of tech-related scam. In one of the research from Microsoft, it was found, in 2021, 31% of Indians lost their money in Microsoft Tech Support scams where scammers install malware or virus-infected program on their Windows computers scammers asked for money to fix that computer.
But the question is, why these scams are on the rise?
1. More Devices with Digital Payment Accounts
With the penetration of smartphones and the internet, there are more digital devices in human history than ever. With digital Payments, more and more people rely on cashless payments using UPI apps, Credit cards etc. Basically, there are more people to scam with digital payment accounts.
Second, unemployment. People in India and also around the world, are desperate for money but they don’t want to work for that. When someone calls them and is told that they have won the lottery of 5 lakh rupees or $5000 and to claim that, they just need to pay Rs.10 for account verification. They happily provide them the OTP and their UPI ID for that 5 Lakh.
To continue the same point, where one unemployed got scammed, another intelligent unemployed is making plans to scam people. They need money for their livelihood but they don’t have jobs. What do you expect them to do?
3. Lack of Basic Tech Education
Even drinking water without prior knowledge and education can be deadly. Holding a smartphone with enabled internet asks for basic education on how things work. There is sensitive information that needs to be kept secret but people don’t know that and they are getting scammed every single day.
Scamming money by getting OTP, Credit/Debits Card details, Microsoft tech support, blackmailing for leaking their private photos, installing Keylogger apps, and whatnot. Behind every scam, the ultimate motive is Money.
How to Protect & Safeguard yourself from Tech Scams?
If you are afraid and looking for ways to safeguard your parents, spouse, and siblings from such tech scams, we have listed a few things that you should always keep in mind while using Smartphone, doing online transactions or talking to someone on the internet.
1. Never, I repeat, Never Share OTPs
Other than the Alphabetical/numerical passwords you enter to log in to the app, every digital payment platform has added an additional layer of security called OTP. OTP stands for One Time Password which is an auto-generated dynamic password that needs to enter at the time of an online transaction. It is a kind of verification code you receive only and only on your registered phone number and is valid for a few minutes. Every scammer needs your OTP to scam you and if you don’t give them by yourself, they will not get it in any other way.
So, keep in mind, never ever share OTP with an unknown person on a phone call. No genuine website, app, bank, or credit card representative asks for OTP. Only scammers will ask you for OTP.
See Also: Healthy Tech Usage Tips
2. Do not Search Service Center Number on Google
If you are looking for a service center number for your smartphone, tablet, or laptop on Google, there are high chances of getting scammed by fraud numbers. Scammers, somehow, rank their websites on Google as having fake, fraudulent phone numbers and portray themselves as genuine brand Service Centers but in reality, they are Fake Service centers.
When you will call them, they will ask for your phone number or share the link to download their app/software. They will tell you that they will debug the problem using this app or software but in reality, that is a Keylogger app or install malicious software on your laptop using which they will get all the information of every key you press on your laptop or smartphone. That way, all the banking information, UPI ID, and Passwords are compromised and you get scammed.
This is your Typical Microsoft Tech Support scam which is also getting popular on smartphones as well.
Instead of searching numbers on Google, visit the store personally or go to the official brand website and find service centers there only.
3. Do Not Scan QR Codes for Verification from an Unknown Person
This is another kind of scam where the user receives a QR Code on WhatsApp or Telegram and ask you to scan it to verify your UPI ID. That QR Code actually made for a certain amount of payment that will be deducted from your account if you scan it. No official authority asks you to scan QR Code from WhatsApp, telegram etc.
4. Do Not Install Apps/Software from Telegram/Whatsapp Links
A lot of users are not aware that there are only 2 places to download apps. One is Google Play Store and the second is Apple App Store. Other than these 2, all other ways of installing apps can be dangerous, especially apps installed from links. You can receive such links as SMS or Whatsapp/Telegram messages. I have seen my own uncle sharing random app links in our family Whatsapp groups asking for free Jio Data, Creating Diwali greetings etc.
Just don’t click on any random link to install the random app for any use. It is a scam where the scammer will install the Keylogger app to track all the activities in your smartphone.
5. Get Educated & Educate your Parents
Without prior knowledge and education, it is not possible to stop such scammers. More than education, consciousness is important because according to Microsoft’s Tech Support research, 41% of people who lost their money in tech scams are computer literate at an Advance level. They download movies, songs, cracked software, and modded apps from unknown sources and in overconfidence, they got scammed.
Our parents are first or maybe the second generation who are using such tech stuff and they might not aware of the risks of clicking on a random link or sharing OTP with a scammer who is pretending to be a bank official. It is high time to educate your parents about such stuff. You can also tweak some settings on their smartphone so that they cannot install any random apps from a random link. Also, install an app like Truecaller that at least alerts you about the person calling you.
6. Do not Share Credit/Debit Card Details
This is very basic common sense but in the greed of free money, a lot of people shut their minds off in such situations. Mind it, no one is going to give you free money. There is no such thing called Free Money, Free iPhone, or Winning Lottery without even buying a lottery ticket. In any case, do not share any debit or credit card details. They will scam you in a fraction of a second right in front of you.
No bank or app will call you asking for your Debit/Credit card number and details.
7. Routine Check of Installed Apps
It is a good habit to check the apps installed on your phone. Along with that, also check your parent’s phone and check if there is any ambiguous, unwanted, suspicious app installed on their smartphone. If you see that, uninstall it first and see if there is any unexplained change or setting in your phone.
To check installed apps. Simply go to Settings > Apps. Click on the app to uninstall it. Also, ensure the source of apps. If it is installed from a random website, or link, uninstall it as soon as possible.
8. Learn to Block Your Credit/Debit Card
This is another thing you should know. Every bank has its own app using which users can access everything related to their bank account. In case, your credit/debit card details get compromised, go to your Bank’s app and block your debit and credit cards. This way, even if the card is compromised, scammers will not be able to deduct any amount from it.
9. Do not Click on Links in the Email
It is very common to see interesting emails in your inbox where you will get free gift cards, and free vouchers or sometimes they will even send you an emotional email asking for help. Most recently, my inbox was bombarded with a Yeti Hooper M20 Cooler scam. The actual Yeti M20 Cooler costs $325 but I was getting it for free.
They will send you an email with a link and once you click on the link, they will redirect you to some other website asking to participate in a brief survey, and in exchange, they will give you a Yeti M20 Cooler backpack for free. Once you entered your credit card details in the survey, your card will be replaced and you will be scammed for god knows how much money. There are thousands of such emails to lure you but just don’t click on the links in the email.
Protect Yourself from Tech Scams, Frauds: Final Words
These were some of the basic things you should keep in mind while interacting with an online identity. If you sense anything fishy, just cut the call, report it to spam on Truecaller, block & report on Whatsapp and move on. There are thousands of people getting scammed every day. No one will give you a free iPhone or free money. That is not how the thing works.
People getting blackmailed & Sextorted on dating, and matrimonial platforms just because of their negligence and lack of basic common sense.
Scammers will create a fake profile with attractive photos of a girl and they even contact you first and start chatting with you. After a certain period of time, they will share obscene videos/photos with you, a random girl will start video calling you and try to get intimate with you and once you start doing anything intimate on a video call, they will record your screen and blackmail you for a certain amount of money. This is called Sextortion Fraud. You can read more about that here on the Delhi Cyber Cell Unit Website.
While using the internet, if you feel anything unusual, that is basically a warning signal and get out of it as soon as possible. Always remember, no one will ever give you money, and private photo or video shared on the internet will remain forever in one form or another, Service Center does not ask you to install an app or software, Never Share OTPs with anyone and most importantly, educate yourself and people around you.
That is the only way to protect yourself and the people around you from such tech scams and frauds.