In an era dominated by technology and connectivity, we have access to everything we want and need right in our hands. The internet plays a pivotal role in our everyday lives—from social media to grocery shopping and paying bills to everything else in between. And with that comes the scary reality of online scams. With cybercriminals becoming increasingly sophisticated, users must be vigilant and proactive in protecting themselves from becoming victims of online scams. Here are some practical tips to help you navigate the digital landscape safely:
Knowledge is your first line of defense—an easy way to ensure you are not a target is to stay informed about the latest online scams and tactics being used. There are ample sources available for you to use when you feel unsure, such as blogs and media outlets.
If you are feeling uneasy about the communication you received online, you are likely not the only one. Sometimes all it takes is a Google search to discover that hundreds of individuals have received that same odd message or email too.
Educate your loved ones about online safety as well—By fostering a culture of cyber awareness, you contribute to a safer online environment for everyone.
For example, here is an odd message we have been seeing on Facebook recently, and maybe your business has too:
And when clicked on, you will be prompted to this page:
Prompts like these are in place to help you catch a scam waiting to happen. And that leads to our next tip: verify the authenticity of the sites you visit and links you are clicking.
Often, one way to tell for sure if you are being scammed is by taking a closer look and ensuring authenticity—Cybercriminals employ various tactics to exploit unsuspecting individuals, such as phishing emails, fake websites, and fraudulent messages. Be cautious when clicking links or downloading attachments, especially if the communication seems unsolicited or suspicious. With all of our information readily available online, you will also have to beware of text scam incidents as well.
And you would be surprised how creative the scammers can be these days. For instance, here is an alleged text from our Technical Managing Partner, Mickey Mellen:
Luckily, I already have Mickey’s phone number saved and know that this is likely someone pretending to be him and leverage the fact he is an authoritative figure at GreenMellen. Receiving a text from your “boss” is one that we have seen a time or two—in which, if you respond, they will likely ask you to make a gift card purchase or something of that nature.
That is why you must confirm the authenticity of the communication you are receiving. And before ever entering any financial information, sharing your social security number, or even buying gift cards for your “boss” take the extra time to ensure that the conversation is legitimate. This step could save you a lot of time and effort later on down the road!
Secure Your Passwords
If the scammer is not coming in the front door, they are likely trying to sneak in through the back—by collecting your data and hacking into your accounts. How do you avoid this form of cyber attack? Secure passwords.
Use strong and unique passwords for your online accounts—Many browsers will even suggest passwords you can use that are harder to guess. Avoid using easily guessable passwords or reusing them across multiple platforms. You can assume that these individuals are already looking into your life, so yes, they likely know your dog’s name or your child’s. Implementing two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security, making it significantly harder for scammers to gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
Lastly, another way to keep multiple passwords private and secure is to use a platform such as Bitwarden and LastPass. Sites like these are pretty much an encrypted vault where you can store all of your data without having to worry about accessibility or anyone else gaining access.
Social Media Awareness
Aside from using challenging passwords and two-factor authentication to protect them, another way to help protect you from digital marketing scams is to be aware of what you choose to share.
Exercise caution on social media platforms especially. Scammers often use social media to gather information about their victims. Be mindful of the information you share online and adjust privacy settings to limit access to your details. The less the internet knows about you, the better.
Be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers and deals. Online scammers often lure victims with promises of incredible discounts, freebies, or exclusive opportunities. Before making any financial commitments: research the company or website thoroughly, read reviews, and verify that the offer is legitimate. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Also, be wary of random invoices—if it is from an organization you have worked with, reach out before providing any information to ensure it is legitimate. If you have never heard of the organization before, it is likely a scam and worth a little more research before paying.
Risk Requires Vigilance
At GreenMellen, we believe in building a brighter web. We believe that digital marketing and access to the internet provide an abundance of opportunities. But we also understand that with something that powerful and easily accessible comes the responsibility to ensure you practice safe habits on the web.
By staying informed, adopting secure practices, and cultivating a skeptical mindset, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of falling victim to online scams. Prioritize your online safety to enjoy the benefits of the digital world without compromising your personal information and financial security. You can also stay up-to-date on all digital marketing trends and tips by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.