Sending money online can be convenient, but the risks are also high. With the higher level of convenience comes a higher chance of fraudsters and identity thieves on the prowl, trying to find loopholes they can use as entry points to turn the odds into their favor.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should forget about using online remittance services altogether. After all, what better way is there for you to send money to the Philippines in less amount of time and with lower fees to think about? It’s all about how you prepare yourself to go against these scammers. And when it comes to things like these, the best weapon that you can have is an overview of what schemes they might be brewing.
Here are a few of the things that scammers online can easily fake. Familiarize yourself with each of them and be prepared to know the difference between what’s real and what’s not:
Mobile Messenger Updates and Messages
Viber, WhatsApp, Line, Snapchat – all these mobile messaging apps have people hooked the moment they’re released. It could be the convenient and cheaper way to send messages to people from all over, or it could be the added perks, like Viber’s free calling feature or the way Snapchat messages self-destruct seconds after they are viewed.
No matter what has the users hooked, scammers have found a way to take advantage of it all.
Scammers could send random emails telling the mobile messenger’s user that they have an incoming voice message, or that a new version is available for the app. It all looks so official, it would even have the app’s official logo and all.
Regardless of what excuse they give you, it would all lead to one thing – you clicking on a button or a link on the email, which causes you to download malware into your system.
And when this malware attacks, it’s going to be quick and vicious.
Before you know it, the malware has copied every username you type in, every password you use. Yup, that includes your bank accounts, as well as logins to remittance sites that you might be using.
Moral of the Story: Mobile messaging apps rarely send you prompts like these through email. Whatever update they have or message that they’re sending are done in-app. So when you receive messages like these, always confirm with their help line first before clicking on anything.
Official Emails from Your Bank, Remittance Service, and Other Financial Institutions
Again, these emails would all look very official. Even users of PayPal, one of the most trusted money transfer services around, went through this ordeal a couple of years back. And yes, each and every time, victims would lose up to thousands of dollars as they fall under the mercy of the scammer.
As for the PayPal scam, users received official-looking emails from PayPal, telling them that they needed to update their account information immediately as their account may have been compromised. From here, they are asked to click on a link to the website.
Amazingly, the users will be redirected to a PayPal website – a fake one.
Yup, every inch and every corner of the fake website looks like the original. The only differences are the URL and the information asked for on the landing page. Instead of the usual spaces for the username and password, the fake website also asks for other information like credit card information and billing addresses.
For other fraudulent emails that use the same ruse, the email itself comes with a form that you would have to fill out. The usual information asked for are usernames, passwords, bank account details, credit card details, and other similar financial information.
Other variations to this would be emails or text messages telling you that you have a wire transfer coming in. They would then ask you for your information, saying that they will not be able to send you your money without the information they are asking for.
Moral of the Story: No financial institution will ever ask you for sensitive information through email. The moment you are asked for such information, disregard the email or contact the institution’s official helpline.
When being redirected to the website, always double-check the URL. There is also a chance that the fake URL they use is close to the real one, so make sure you have the right URLs written somewhere. To be on the safe side, open up the page separately, and not through the link given on the email.
Customer Service Numbers
Yes, even phone numbers can be faked now.
Scammers are purchasing phone numbers that are very close to the real customer service numbers used by different financial bodies. These scammers usually prey on those who are looking for numbers that they can call online.
They purchase ad slots right on top of the search engine’s page, displaying a fake customer service number – a smart move if you ask me. After all, people with problems about their credit cards and bank accounts are often in a hurry, which means that they would call the first number that pops out on the page. And because the number will seem familiar (as it is almost the same as the real thing), it’s easy to fall for it hook, line and sinker.
From here, the person on the other line would ask for details like credit card numbers, security codes, billing addresses, and other sensitive information. And before you know it, you’re all out of cash.
Moral of the Story: If you have an urgent concern with your bank, credit card provider, or other similar services, proceed to their official website and get the numbers from there. If you have your card in hand, use the number written on the card. Never use phone numbers that appear on search ads, especially when it comes to financial stuff.
If there’s one thing that the internet never forgets, it’s the things that you search for on a daily basis. Brands you follow, places you do research on, sights you want to see – all these are stored in the worldwide web’s memory banks somewhere.
This kind of information, of course, would be something scammers can use against you.
Don’t be surprised when you see ads or receive emails talking about special offers from your favorite brands, or from an airline that flies to a destination you’ve been hoping to visit soon. All that they ask for is for you to complete a quick survey, and you’re automatically qualified to receive the special offer.
Don’t be surprised, however, when you get to the end of the survey and find a page asking you for your credit card information or banking details. All this is a trick to get you to give them financial information that would give them access to your accounts.
Moral of the Story: Check the URL of the survey that you are led to. You can do some solid research through WhoIs. All you have to do is copy and paste the link to the space provided on the WhoIs page, and you’ll immediately see who owns the page and when the page was setup. Scammers would always use a proxy service when setting up pages like these, which means that the proxy’s name would be the one appearing as the owner of the page, and not the brand or company that you initially thought.
Lastly, think about it. Who on their right mind would give you a guaranteed $100 off on your next plane booking just because you answered a bunch of simple questions?
More often than not, it’s all about having your wits and common sense around all the time. Don’t be part of the population who goes, “How could I have not seen that?” moments after they’ve been duped. No matter how alarming, exciting, or tempting things can be, stop, pause, and think.
Is it legitimate?
Will my bank really ask me for this?
Is this something that a real business would do?
Did I use every means possible to contact the company where these messages are supposedly coming from?
Don’t fall for it. Scammers will always be around, it’s up to you to outsmart them and show them who the real boss is around here.