We all like to think we could spot a scam from a mile away, but sneaky criminals are constantly improving their techniques and coming up with clever ways to extract financial and personal information.
So how good are you at sniffing out at scam? There’s a quick test that can tell you.
The test comes from the U.K. government and Financial Fraud Action U.K., an organization dedicated to fighting fraud.
Though the creators are in the U.K., the lessons you can learn from it apply to anywhere in the world.
Take the test
Head on over to the online test, called “Too smart to be scammed?” “Most people think they wouldn’t fall for a fraudulent text or email, but criminals are more sophisticated than ever,” the test warns before you start.
The test may be sneakier than you think. How would you react if you got a text message that seems to be from your bank asking you to transfer your balance in order to protect you from fraud? It may look official. It may even have your account number. Would you do what it asks?
You get an email that appears to be from your bank, warning you of suspicious activity and asking you to click a link to confirm your account. With the stress of possible fraud looming over you, would you just click the link? There are eight questions in all, and you may have to take some time to think about the answers.
The test highlights ways scammers might try to get your money or information, but it also gives examples of legitimate messages you might get from your financial institution. When in doubt, get in touch with your bank directly through a known phone number or contact method.
Even if you ace the test, it’s a great reminder to stay wary and be smart when you’re contacted about financial matters.
Now that you’ve taken the test, it’s time to take action. The Take Five initiative is built around an awareness campaign that asks you to pause and think before giving out sensitive financial or personal information.
“Deep down, you probably already know these basic rules on how to beat financial fraud – you just need to take a breath and stay calm enough to remember them,” says the Take Five group.
It takes smarts, savvy, and, yes, a little patience to keep from being a victim. Keep Take Five’s handy advice in mind:
Take a moment:
Stop and think before responding to a request, whether it’s an email, text message, or even a phone call that is supposedly coming from your financial institution. Some fraudulent messages are designed to cause stress and push you into reacting without thinking.
Don’t share your details:
If someone asks for your password or PIN, be wary. “Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.”
Think before you click:
Don’t automatically click on links in text messages or emails. Look for spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. If in doubt, go directly to your bank’s website or log in using your bank’s official app.
Even if someone seems to know your personal details or account information, you still need to be careful. “Be mindful of who you trust – criminals may try and trick you into their confidence by telling you that you’ve been a victim of fraud,” says Take Five.
“Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation [sic] force you to make a financial transaction on the spot; they would never ask you to transfer money into another account for fraud reasons.” This gets to the heart of Take Five’s message: Taking the time to stop and think can help keep you from falling victim to the wiles of a financial fraudster.
Fight back! Report internet scammers to the authorities
Whether you’re facing down a phishing attack or dealing with another form of online fraud, there are ways to bite back against internet criminals.