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An initiative of Google and Test-Achats

Three golden rules against online scams

An urgent telephone call from your bank demanding your personal details, an aggressive e-mail from your provider promising a surprise payment, a WhatsApp message saying you’ve won a competition you didn’t enter – and so on. Attempted online scams take various forms, but have one thing in common: they all take advantage of your trusting nature. That’s because cybercriminals count on the fact that when you’re under pressure or in doubt, you’ll comply with their wishes without checking first.

And that’s just what happens in many cases. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission estimates there were 1.9 billion dollars (1.69 billion euros) of losses due to online scams in 2019.

Which is why the ScamSpotter.org initiative first saw the light of day. This website reminds visitors of the three golden rules to observe when they receive an unsolicited message or call.

  • Slow it down: A scam happens before you realise it, because it plays on a sense of urgency to get you to drop your guard. Slow things down and ask yourself the right questions before giving in to panic.
  • Spot check: If you receive an unexpected message or call, don’t respond directly, but get in touch the people claiming to contact you by some other means to check their bona fides.
  • Stop! Don't send: No reputable organisation will ask you to make a payment immediately – even less so if there are gift cards, Bitcoins or other more unusual methods of payment involved. So, if you think the request for payment seems odd, then it’s definitely a scam.

Scam Spotter also enables you to gauge your knowledge of online scams. Take the quiz to test your ability to detect scams.