Think before you click


2020 is almost over! Finally! It’s been a long year of crisis after crisis of global proportions. Name it and we’ve had it this year – from immigration to economic, from trade to climate change, from political to health with the Covid-19 pandemic. All things considered, I think most of us are so excited to get over this year and start a new, hopefully better one in the next few days.

Before we say our New Year’s cheers and let 2020 bygones be bygones, just allow me to remind you all: think before you click! As the world becomes even more digital next year, the threat of online frauds and scams will definitely be here to stay. It has grown so much in the last year, prompting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch ReportFraud.ftc.gov, a website where consumers can easily report fraud and all other consumer issues directly to the FTC. Telecommunication companies have announced anti-scam reminders to their subscribers after receiving various complaints and reports.

Here are some of the top types of online scams:

Phishing: Phishing is a form of cyber-attack that uses disguised emails and messages that pretend to come from reliable sources. It usually comes with a link to click in order to obtain the victim’s sensitive information or introduce malware into the victim’s system.

Too-good-to-be-true financial offers: Whether it’s a make-money fast offer, a new pre-approved bank loan, a new credit card with a huge limit, or suddenly winning a lottery you didn’t join, the essence of this scam is to bait the victim with huge money. Some examples include robocalls, call spoofing and the like. The victim is asked to send bank details or transfer smaller amounts of money to another account as fees for verification and the like. Before long, the victim’s personal and financial details have been breached and likely an even bigger amount removed.

Fake anti-virus software: This usually pops up as a warning that your device has been compromised and you need to download a software immediately in order to protect your device or continue whatever it is you’re doing. Once you click though, you have been compromised. If lucky, it will be an innocent hoax with weird pop-ups but it can also be as bad as introducing a malware or even a ransomware into your system.

Romance scams: Yes, it happens. This one preys on lonely, innocent victims. It starts as an innocent friendship, perhaps through a dating app or social media messages. A friendship grows and promises a happy-ever-after but is actually a ploy for either identity theft, or worse, financial ruin.

There are many more scams out there and with the pandemic, even more scams will likely come out in 2021. A simple way to safeguard against these scams would be to follow ABC. Always Be Careful. Do not accept friend requests, calls, or reply to messages from strangers. Use strong passwords and do not share these with others. Invest in good security software and always have your device and apps updated.

Use two-factor authentication whenever possible (e.g.., a password and your fingerprint). And most importantly, when in doubt, don’t click!

Enjoy the holidays, everyone! May 2021 bring new hope, new beginnings, and a better year to all of us!

Joy Santamarina is the chief transformation officer of Energy Development Corp. She has extensive experience across the APAC region in various sectors including FMCG, telecommunications, media, and technology industries. Send feedback to joysantamarina@gmail.com

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