Learning
June 11, 2021

How to Protect Yourself from Online Scams

Koa

It is a sunny Saturday morning, you have woken up restfully excited to take on the weekend. You pick up your phone and see a message from a random number asking you to M-PESA them some money. You assume it’s your friend who paid for your meal last night and you send it without thinking twice.

A few hours later, your friend calls you saying they just woke up and you realize that you have been scammed. You try to get the money back but it is too late. Your weekend is ruined and you vow to never make the same mistake again.

This scam has been going on for years now, yet a lot of people still fall victim to it every day. In the era of Tinder Swindler and phishing emails, being vigilant online is critical. There are a few very simple things you can do on a daily basis to stay safe.

Keep your devices up to date

This one is a given, but it is so important that we could not leave it out. The annoying reminders you get every few weeks to update your phone and laptop? Turns out they are very very important. 

Make sure your devices are regularly updated

Having the latest security systems are your strongest line of defense against viruses, malware any other threats. Turn on automatic updates on your devices so you don’t have to worry about updating them manually.

Protect your accounts

Do you use the same password on every platform? Change it now! This is the easiest way to get scammed. Make sure that you use unique passwords and that your passwords are not easy to guess.

We recommend that your passwords should be at least 8 characters long, with a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not use any identifiable words or dates in your passwords. And change your passwords every 3 months to reduce the risk of getting hacked.

Keep your personal information private

It is as important to keep your passwords safe as it is to set strong passwords. Do not write down your passwords in a notebook that you leave around in public places. Do not WhatsApp them to a friend or store them on your phone. Do not leave your devices unlocked and unattended. And most importantly, do not share your passwords with anyone, and if you need to, make sure you do it in private and change your password right after.

Do not leave your devices unattended

If you don’t have the best memory and need to store your passwords in a safe place, we recommend 1Password. 1Password allows you to save all your passwords and other sensitive information in one place. It is easily integrated into your browser as well as your phone and it also has the ability to autofill your password so you never have to worry about typing a complicated password again.

And speaking of complicated passwords, you can also use 1Password to generate a new password so you can rest assured that your password is unique and cannot be guessed by anyone.

Watch out for phishing signs

Your email server or network provider usually flags phishing content as spam, but some still get away with it. However, if you pay a bit of attention, phishing emails and messages are very easy to identify. Here are the signs you should watch out for:

  1. An unfamiliar tone or greeting
  2. Typos or grammatical errors in the email
  3. A domain name that is similar to a well-known organization but is spelled differently
  4. When the domain to email address is not the same as the reply-to email address
  5. If the email or message contains a link and the link does not belong to the sender’s organization
  6. A sense of urgency- someone asking you to take an action immediately
  7. Attachments that seem suspicious
  8. A request for information of sensitive nature (see point above)
  9. A request that is unexpected or unusual
  10. An email from an organization that you are not a customer or member of asking you to take action on your account

Whenever you receive an email or message that you did not expect, analyze it for these signs. If anything seems suspicious to you, do not click on anything, mark it as spam and delete the email or message immediately. If you are unsure of the legitimacy of the message, call the sender or sender organization and verify that it was sent by them before you take any action.

If a deal is too good to be true, it IS too good to be true

This is as simple as that. If something that is normally worth 10K is going for 500 bob, it has fraud written all over it. Don’t be tempted by it, despite how amazing the offer may be. Ignore it and move on with your life.

You are now well equipped to handle all the scam artists and fraudsters that come your way and keep them at bay! Make sure to be vigilant at all times and to always trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, chances are that it is, in fact, not right.

Stay safe out there everyone!