Dangers of Scams in the Digital Age

ScamAlert Advisor | 21 Jun 2019

The digital age has brought about many wondrous technological advancements. From augmented reality and cryptocurrency to face-swapping filters and short form videos of people doing the weirdest things. But with that comes a new breed of scammers who lurk in the deep, dark corners of the web, lying in wait for their next victim. These masters of deception have evolved with the times, and are getting increasingly cunning in their ploys.

It’s a numbers game

The art of impersonating someone in real life takes skill, preparation, and a great deal of confidence. But today, all you really need is to know your way around a computer. Impersonation scam cases have been on the rise in recent years, with scammers tapping on technology to cover their tracks. By using caller ID spoofing technology, scammers can choose the number that they want to display on their recipients’ phones to fool them into believing that they are talking to the authorities or any other person that they are impersonating.

What is caller ID spoofing? Simply put, anyone with the right software will be able to alter their caller ID to imitate a legitimate company’s official number. This means that the call from your “bank” may turn out to be someone phishing for your personal information such as your credit card details or NRIC number.

How do we combat this, then? An effective way to determine if a phone call is coming from a legitimate source, especially one that asks for your personal information, is to hang up the phone and call the official hotline of the company. This number can easily be verified on the company’s official website.

Hacking or Account Takeover

In recent weeks, we have heard of cases where scammers managed to take over WhatsApp accounts after victims shared their six-digit WhatsApp One-Time Password (OTP) with them. In this scenario, scammers simply need to gain access to one account for them to perpetrate their crime where they impersonate the victim and convince their contacts to send them cash and WhatsApp OTPs. Some scammers even ask their victims’ contacts to buy shopping credits, as well as Google Play and Apple gift cards for them.
This doesn’t just apply to WhatsApp, though. Past cases also involve Facebook accounts. Such ploys capitalise on the victims’ complete trust in the people that they think they know in order to obtain sensitive information such as an OTP over a messaging app or social media.

It’s alright to be skeptical!

We’ve said this a million times and we’ll say it again because it’s just so darn important:  Do not give out your personal information to anyone without verification. This includes your credit card details, NRIC number, bank account number and OTPs, to name a few. Basically, if it has anything to do with your hard-earned money or your identity, keep it to yourself. This is one scenario where it’s perfectly fine for you to be skeptical and to question the need for such information,especially via a phone call, messaging app or social media.

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