5+ ‘Social Engineering’ Scams | How to Identify Them and Avoid Getting Hacked

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Unfortunately, scams are a dime a dozen these days. Thanks to the internet, many people are using it to try to scam and attack people to make money or extract personal information.

A very common way of attacking victims is through social engineering scams. It may sound a bit technical, but it’s actually a pretty common method that’s been used for a long time, even before the internet was a thing. 

There are several ways people can use social engineering to attack you or your loved ones, so it’s best to understand what you’re dealing with and how you can prevent any scam. 

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about social engineering scams and how to protect yourself against them. 

What’s a Social Engineering Scam?

When it comes to social engineering, attackers use this method to scam people by manipulating them to feel confident sharing personal information.

Criminals use social engineering tactics to gain the victim’s trust since it’s easier to retrieve information from the person or hack into their devices after having them click on a malicious link.

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  • They usually do this by pretending they’re someone else, like a close friend, boss, or family member asking for help.
  • It’s also common that they act as a well-known company the victim uses or is familiar with, like a bank or a social media platform.
  • The message also usually adds some type of urgency

For instance, an attacker can send an email or message claiming that you’ve been hacked and they need your login credentials to sort the problem out. Or maybe you’ll get a message saying that you won $1 million and need to follow a link to claim your reward. In theory, this would make it more likely for the victim to stress about the problem or “opportunity” instead of questioning who the sender is

The idea behind social engineering is that it’s easier to gain information from a victim who trusts the attacker rather than trying to steal the victim’s data by other means or forcing them to click a link. 

5 Social Engineering Scams You Need to Be Aware Of 

There are countless social engineering scams out there – and the worst part is that they keep changing, so they become more effective. It’s just part of the technological world we live in right now. With that said, social engineering scammers keep using some of the same tactics to this day. 

Here are five of the most common social engineering scams you should know. 

Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common attacks people use to get a hold of a person’s information. That’s because it’s so easy to make phishing attacks; even ordinary people like us can do it with little to no knowledge about the subject. Phishing is a common social engineering attack in which the attacker sends an email to a possible victim impersonating someone else. They then try to get a hold of that person’s information or lure them into clicking a shady link or even making a bank deposit.

Video and Audio Deep Fakes

Thanks to how easy it’s become to create, deep fakes have become really popular in the last few years. Deep fakes use artificial intelligence called deep learning to create a fake digital face or body to put “on top” of something else. People can use deep fakes to make themselves look like famous people and even create a video that could easily fool people. What’s dangerous about it is that people are using it to scam people making them believe they’re watching an actual video of a company or a famous person they can trust. 

Smishing

Smishing is a form of phishing. But instead of sending emails to the victims, scammers send text messages. Smishing works the same as phishing, in the sense that scammers try to get a hold of a person’s information by sending them a text message from a company or a loved one. Attackers might use this method to retrieve information or make the victim click on a link to install malware on their smartphone. 

Baiting

Baiting is a pretty common way of attracting people to click on a fraudulent website over the internet. Usually, the attacker will share a link that looks like a reputable website, such as “arnzon.com” and tell the victim they’ve won a reward. Once the person clicks on the link, the website will download and install malware into the victim’s device. Attackers often use forums to share these links, but some of them go as far as to create fake advertisements the person can click on. 

Vishing

Vishing, also known as Voice Phishing, is another popular social engineering scam. Attackers usually use vishing to impersonate the contact support team of a big company. For example, they might call you saying that you’ve had a problem with your account and need to fix it. They might also try using this technique to “transfer money” and then say that they sent you more money than they were supposed to and that you can give it back to them by sending them gift cards. 

How Do I Protect Myself Against Social Engineering Attacks?

Don’t be mistaken; just because you now know some common scams doesn’t mean you’re already safe against social engineering attacks. You still need to take the necessary precautions if you don’t want to fall for a scam. So here are some tips that’ll keep you and your loved ones safe.

First, don’t ever share private information online. If someone asks you for passwords or other types of data, you should avoid those messages, even if you know the person. This is because the person you know might have also fallen for a scam, and now there’s a cybercriminal using that person’s account. 

Also, try to avoid shady websites. Even if they offer free programs and apps, stay away from them. If you feel like you need to click on a link that someone shared with you, read it carefully. Scammers will often switch letters on a URL to make it seem like the real deal. Sometimes they might swap an “O” with a “0” or an “l” with an “I.” It’s always best to read links carefully, especially if you got them randomly on a text message or email. 

Avoid opening spam emails. Just don’t even bother to do it. Sometimes, all it takes is for you to open an email to become a target. It’d be best to consider changing your email settings so you never see much spam email in your inbox. 

Speaking of emails, never reply to shady emails or text messages. More often than not, scammers buy a bulk of emails and phone numbers, but they don’t know which ones are useful. They’ll often send thousands of messages and wait for someone to reply to find out which emails and phone numbers they can use. If you don’t want to become a target, avoid replying to these messages altogether. 

Protect your computer with an antivirus. Having an antivirus will help you make sure there’s no hidden malicious software on your computer. You should also keep your devices up to date with the latest software updates to make sure you have the newest security patches the company offers. 

Overall, try to be as careful as possible. Big companies won’t ever ask you for your login credentials or highly personal information. There’s no way to be 100% safe against these attacks. But with our tips and a bit of common sense, you can be as safe as possible. 

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