Internet scams occur in a variety of ways these days. So, how do you protect yourself against it? In this article you will read about the different forms of Internet scams and tips on what to do to protect yourself from them. Have you unfortunately already been scammed? Then read our tips how to handle this situation in the best possible way.
In this blog article you’ll read:
- What is internet scam?
- In what ways does internet scam happen?
- What can I do to prevent Internet scams?
- Help, I have been scammed, what can I do?
What is internet scam?
Internet scams include having given details and/or paid online, but then receiving nothing.
For example, you think you’re buying a truck from a seller, but after paying, you never hear back from that seller. In that case, you have probably been scammed. This may be because the internet scammer is posing as another party. This is why Internet scams are also known as ‘phishing’. This means that internet scammers approach you in the hope that you will ‘bite’.
In what ways does internet scam happen?
You can fall victim to internet scams in many ways. This can occur in:
Phishing on websites
Scammers display a website that looks exactly like the website of a company or institution. In most cases, this form of phishing is used to obtain account information for other websites. When you fill out forms on a phishing website, they are sent to the scammer. In this way, the scammers find out your login details or other sensitive information.
Phishing in e-mails
In this case, scammers send an email that appears to be from a company. With this email, scammers want to trick you. You will receive one of the following requests in most cases:
- Transfer money
- Send sensitive information
- Click on a link
- Open a file
In all cases, you will not know that you are communicating with a scammer. Sometimes attachments in these emails contain viruses, which end up on your computer when you open the file.
Communication via e-mail is very susceptible to Internet scams, because the security of e-mail messages depends on both the sender and the recipient. So, there is a chance that scammers can read your emails. Like traditional mail, email messages can be intercepted in several ways, namely through:
- Unsafe computer passwords
- Unsafe passwords for logging into the email program
- Use of unsafe wifi networks (e.g., at a campsite)
- Non-encrypted email messages (in combination with insecure networks)
- Human error (watching or writing down passwords)
- Fraud by company employees
All of these points apply to both the sender and the recipient of the email.
Phishing via WhatsApp
A scammer can also use WhatsApp to impersonate another party and request you to transfer money or leave data in these ways.
What can I do to prevent Internet scams?
We give you tips to avoid Internet scams on websites and in emails. You will also find some general tips on how to combat online scams. Furthermore, as a seller you can also fall victim to Internet scams, so you will also receive tips on how to sell safely.
- Check the reachability of the seller
Do they answer the phone? Do they answer their emails? Is the address correct and can you visit this address if necessary? Does the person you spoke to actually work there?
- First sign the contract, then pay
Make sure you have the purchase agreement on paper. And check that all the details on the selling party’s contract are correct. Also, if you have the opportunity, it is best to view the vehicle/machine/part in real life first.
- Check name and bank account number
Contact the seller by phone using the number listed on their website. Then ask if the bank account number you received from them is correct.
- Is the offer real?
Is the offer too good to be true? Then it usually is. Therefore, check the prices of similar vehicles/machines/parts.
- Encrypt your e-mails
Encrypting your emails means securing your emails. You protect your house from burglars by locking the doors. When you encrypt your e-mails, you “lock your mail” to protect it from scammers. This encryption is done via ‘TLS’ (Transport Layer Security). If an encrypted e-mail is intercepted, it is unreadable for the scammers.
To encrypt an e-mail, both the mail program of the sender and the one of the recipient must have this encryption function. This is because the recipient’s mail program must have ‘the key’ to ‘open’ the lock that the sender has placed on it. If the recipient does not have this key, the e-mail will still not be encrypted and thus sent unsecured.
Not sure if you are using an encryption function? Then check with your email program. If your email program is managed by Tnl Business you can use this secure transmission. Please contact our support department for more information.
- Check the sender’s domain
The ‘domain’ is the name of the organization sending you an email. The domain name is after the ‘@’ sign. In our case, our domain name is: ‘@tnlbusiness.com’. In front of this domain name are usually our departments from where the mail was sent or the person like: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or suppose we have an employee named James Smith, then it becomes email@example.com’.
A scammer can make it appear that the email was sent from Tnl Business. An example of this is: our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, the scammer’s email address is email@example.com. The difference is that the letter ‘l’ has been replaced by the number ‘1’. So pay close attention.
Domain names are often secured. This security ensures that there are only a few locations from which the emails can be sent. Your email program can usually recognize whether these locations are correct. Are these locations incorrect? Then the mail is seen as spam. Unfortunately, your e-mail program is not always able to pick out scammers, so stay alert.
- Be careful with email responses
An e-mail may have been sent safely, but when you respond to it, it does not mean that the response is also sent safely. Don’t always trust that the content and attachments actually originate from the sender. Always check the bank account number when making payments. You can do this by comparing it with previous payments, via the receiving party’s website or by phone.
- Check the legislation
The legislation deals with the lawful handling of personal data. Companies will not simply ask you for personal data via e-mail, as this is not permitted under the Act. Do you still receive an e-mail in which the sender asks for your details? If so, always contact this company. Do not do this by e-mail, but contact the company by telephone.
General tips against internet scams
- Use secure passwords*
- Secure your wifi network with a password and change it regularly
- Regularly change the password you use to log into your e-mail program
- Install a virus scanner, this will check your online safety
- Do not write down passwords on paper
- Lock your computer when you leave your workplace
* Secure passwords:
- The more characters, the safer. 8 characters is on the short side. A password with 12 characters or more is much stronger. A password with 12 instead of 8 characters makes it up to 80 million times stronger.
- Numbers, uppercase letters and special characters (&, ?, #, !, %, etc.) reinforce the password.
- Or use a pass phrase, which remembers you more easily. Example: IHave100BicyclePumps.
- Use pass phrases of at least 4 words. Don’t use a proverb or a familiar sentence, but it doesn’t have to be very complicated. Another example is 131KilometerIsTooFast. Unfortunately too long pass phrases do not always work. Many websites have a maximum password length of between 10 and 20 characters.
- The password should not contain easily guessable personal information, such as a name, date of birth or address.
- Use different passwords for each website and service. A program like ‘LastPass’ that remembers passwords or remembering tips will help.
- Change passwords at least once a year.
Tips for selling safely
- Have the buyer check your bank account number
Point out to the buyer that he should always check your bank account number when he receives the invoice. If this account number is on your website, you can refer to it. In other cases you can ask the buyer to check your account number by looking at previous payments or by contacting you by phone.
- Secure your computers and network
Internet scams often occur because computers or wifi networks are poorly secured. Have an IT specialist look into this and make sure you secure them properly.
- Inform employees about digital security
Everyone in your company should be aware of the security rules so that nothing can go wrong. Draw up these rules and make them available via your company’s intranet, for example, and make sure that every new employee reads them.
Help, I have been scammed, what can I do?
Should you, despite the measures taken, still fall victim to a scam, you can do the following to prevent or resolve (worse) damage:
- Report the scam to the police
- Change passwords in email programs
- Change network passwords
Sources (in Dutch):
- Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens
- De Politie (internetoplichting)
- De Politie (phishing)
- Veilig Internetten
- Digital Trust Center