In recent years, Singapore has seen a significant rise in the number of financial frauds and scams. These are targeted at both tourists and locals. According to some surveys, 1 in 3 Singaporeans has been victim to these frauds. It is crucial that you are aware of these, and also how to safeguard yourself against these. Failing to do so can cost you a lot of money and stress. Here are the most common scams and how you can protect yourself from them.
Social Media Scams
Many people now use social media like WeChat, Tinder, and iAround to meet new people. Often, they get in touch with strangers for various reasons, be it for making new friends or for dating. If you do use such social media platforms, then you need to beware of this scam. Here, the scammers befriend you, and after some time, they ask you to lend them some money for personal reasons. They may say they need some money for medication or their sick parents. Once you give them the money, they block you and disappear. To be safe from this, you need to do an image search on your new social media friends and verify them before sharing any personal details or money.
This is another online scam that occurs on social media sites. Here, the scammer befriends you and coaxes you into performing sexual acts on camera. If you do that, they record the act and then blackmail you, claiming that if you don’t pay up, they will upload the act to the internet. Here, you have to realize that anything that goes on the internet stays there forever, and can severely affect your reputation and career. To safeguard yourself from this, you should not agree to share your images or videos with anyone. This is especially crucial now thanks to the AI app Deepfake that can replicate your face on other’s videos.
Here, you may get a mail or notification saying that you have won a lottery or prize and that you need to provide your passport details along with other information to redeem it. This information is then used by the scammer to clean your bank accounts. Another way of doing this is more subtle where they develop websites that imitate already existing sites, and then trick you into using their fake webpage where you have to provide your personal information. To protect yourself from this scam, you need to make sure that the site you are using is encrypted and has an ‘https’ tag in the URL instead of an ‘http’ tag. Additionally, you should never provide any bank details on emails or messages. You should also never entertain emails or messages asking you for verification of your bank details, especially your ATM pin.
Online Shopping Scams
This scam generally occurs on shopping sites like eBay and Carousell, where people can sell their products with ease, independently. Here, if you see a deal that is too good to be true, it is probably a scam. What happens is, the seller will tell you that they will ship the product once you make the full payment for the product. And once you do that, they send you a doctored shipment receipt, but the product never arrives. To safeguard yourself from this, make sure you do a background check on the seller by reading the reviews and asking essential questions, or look for sites that provide arrangements where they hold the payment to the seller until the product is delivered.
You should never entertain messages, calls, or emails from people who claim to be stockbrokers with superb deals on various shares with excellent returns. If you fall into their trap, they will ask for your details like NRIC and passport number to fill the investment form, and then ask you to make the payment. Once you do that, they go dark. To protect yourself, you need to be wary of binary options with high risks and great returns, and you should check with a licensed financial advisor. You can also check with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Investor Alert List to know if they have been blacklisted. You also need to do a background check on the company claiming to be a stockbroker.
Illegal Card Scanning
In recent years, many people have started using credit and debit cards with NFC chips that can be tapped to make payments. This has made it especially easy for thieves and scammers to rob you. Here, what they do is use illegal scanners and tap them on your wallet, and drain your bank accounts by a significant sum. To safeguard yourself from this, you need to be vigilant in public spaces, and keep strangers from getting too close to you or your bag. You can also use RFID protected wallets to isolate the NFC chips in your cards.
Another offline scam that happens is card skimming, where your credit card details are stolen when you try to make a payment or use the ATM. This is usually committed by restaurant waiters where you pay by card. They may either write down all the details or swipe your card twice to gain all the details. Another way is where they use cloning devices on card-readers or ATMs to clone the details of your card. To prevent this from happening, you must never lose sight of your cards, and not let the waiters take it away from your table. And it would be best if you only used trusted ATMs.
By following these etiquettes, you can safeguard yourself from such financial predators and protect your bank accounts and money. New scams are being invented every other day, and hence, you must be extra careful. If you sense any red flag or a warning, you should not ignore it. It is likely that you might be falling into a trap. If you do suspect that you have fallen victim to any of these scams, it is best to report them to the police.