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How to Protect Yourself from Phone and Email Scams

01/11/2023 | Latest News

Modern technology brings both convenience and risk. As we embrace the ease of the internet and devices in our lives, we also expose ourselves to potential threats from individuals looking to exploit these technologies. The prevalence of scams, which can compromise our personal and financial security, is on the rise. Scammers employ sophisticated tactics, including phone calls, text messages, and emails, to deceive us. To safeguard your personal information and avoid falling victim to fraudulent activities, it’s crucial to understand the methods scammers use and the precautions you can take.

Understanding Scams

Scams involve deceptive strategies aimed at defrauding people of money or personal information. Scammers take advantage of trust and vulnerability, often using psychological tactics to achieve their goals. Recognising their motivations and tactics is essential for identifying and evading scams.

Common Scams and How They Work

  • Wangiri Scams – Have you received calls from unfamiliar international numbers that hang up after a single ring? This could indicate a Wangiri scam. Scammers hope you’ll call back, unknowingly connecting you to premium-rate services that generate profits for them. To avoid this, refrain from calling back unknown numbers.
  • Phishing Scams – Phishing scams usually arrive as emails pretending to be from reputable companies. These emails aim to trick you into divulging personal information like passwords or credit card details. Watch for signs like poor grammar, unofficial email addresses, and requests for personal data. When in doubt, verify with the company directly.
  • Vishing Scams – Vishing, or voice phishing, involves scammers posing as trustworthy entities to coax sensitive information or payments from you via phone calls. Recognising vishing calls’ warning signs and adopting preventive measures will help you steer clear of manipulative tactics. Be especially cautious of unsolicited calls.

Protecting Yourself

Navigating this landscape requires awareness. Here are practical tips:

  • Identify and Avoid Fake Emails – Beware of phishing emails that mimic government departments and entities, reputable companies or larger international ones. Be cautious of emails claiming you’ve won prizes, your bank account is compromised, your social media is hacked, or unpaid bills threaten service cutoff.
  • Verify Sender’s Authenticity – Scrutinise the sender’s email address for suspicious elements.
  • Check Email Content – Be wary of urgent requests, grammatical errors, or personal info demands.
  • Hover before Clicking – Hover over links to see actual URLs before clicking, especially for unfamiliar or shortened links.

Recognise and Avoid Suspicious Calls

Wangiri calls are often brief and come from numbers with unfamiliar country codes or long digits. If unsure about a call’s origin:

  • Don’t interact immediately – Allow calls to go to voicemail and assess their authenticity before responding
  • Be cautious with premium – rate numbers: Know premium-rate prefixes to spot potential scams and understand call costs.
  • Use call-blocking features – Instal call-blocking apps or your phone’s features to filter out scam numbers.

Additional Expert Tips:

  • Practice online caution – Share personal information on secure websites, especially for financial transactions.
  • Use strong passwords – Use unique, complex passwords for various accounts and consider a password manager.
  • Enable two-factor authentication – Add an extra layer of protection to accounts when possible.
  • Act promptly – Report incidents to relevant authorities and financial institutions; take steps to mitigate damage.
  • Monitor accounts – Regularly review financial statements, credit reports, and online accounts for unusual activity.
  • Implement safeguards – Consider credit freezing, identity theft protection, or fraud alerts for added security.

Remember, legitimate entities DO NOT ask for PINs, banking details, or payments via phone or email. Never install software like TeamViewer for unsolicited access.

Report Scams

To report scams, you may contact the Malta Cyber Crime Unit by telephone on (+356) 2294 2231 or by email address: computer.crime@gov.mt.

If you have been the victim of a payment scam report it to your local Police station.