The Digital Pickpocket
The Internet, while providing many with the opportunity to share and learn anything they please, is rife with scams and other illicit activities. Many times, Internet and telephone scams are so well designed that differentiating organizations that wish to steal information and others that do not can be especially challenging. While young adults are the most common victims of internet and telephone scams, many steps can be taken in order to hinder a scam that is trying to infiltrate personal or financial data. Using common sense and understanding basic human incentive can help protect consumers from being scammed.
Often times scammers will attempt to impersonate a government or non-profit entity in order to gain trust in an unsuspecting target. They do this via email, phone, or instant-messaging. They will construct elaborate emails filled with pseudo-government graphics and seals. Whether they impersonate the IRS or a local police department, it’s always important to take a step back and think about the probability of the person on the other end actually being a representative of these groups.
Would a government agency or police department ask for personal or monetary information from you through an email? What if they text you? With few exceptions, they will never contact anyone through those channels if they are requesting sensitive information. No matter how eloquent they may seem, it is always safe to disregard them and call the organization from a public website that isn’t provided by the email. This will ensure that personal information is protected and from there the scam can be reported to the respective organization.
Should one feel uncertain about the validity of a scam, it’s always best to defer to logic for the most reasonable answer. Abiding by Occam’s razor, the principle that the most simple answer is usually the right one, the motive of whoever is behind the monitor can be easily inferred. Everything that has enough economic value to be traded is not free. Along with that,
anyone who has desires also has a self-interest to get what they want for as little as possible. Is the free iPhone you were just offered really free? Can this actually be a legitimate offer afforded to you? For a staggering majority of these cases the answer is a resounding no. With few exceptions, no for-profit company or organization would give away that much value for little to nothing in return. It is simply unheard of in the modern marketplace, and this is a key indicator of a scam.
Scammers will implement any number of methods to gain their target’s trust; however, basic logical thinking can easily protect any target of these vicious scams. The digital age has provided many with the opportunity to steal and infiltrate like never before. Everyone who uses the Internet or cell phone services is susceptible to any number of scams, and it is always better to err on the side of caution. Scammers prey on those who treat an email the same as a knock on the door. Only when a healthy level of doubt is exercised can one be safe from their relentless attacks.