How to avoid the most frequent and dangerous financial scams on the Internet

They offer you innovative investments with high returns without any risk –something impossible–, you receive an email in which they ask for all your personal data or you receive a message on your mobile alerting you of a problem with a shipment and whose solution is to open a link.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
03 October 2022 Monday 01:46
10 Reads
How to avoid the most frequent and dangerous financial scams on the Internet

They offer you innovative investments with high returns without any risk –something impossible–, you receive an email in which they ask for all your personal data or you receive a message on your mobile alerting you of a problem with a shipment and whose solution is to open a link. These are some of the formulas used in financial scams, a criminal trend that has increased in recent years taking advantage of the rise of new technologies and social networks.

This year, the Day of Financial Education, which is celebrated every first Monday of the month of October, focuses on the motto Education for more secure finances. And it is that raising awareness about the importance of financial education and improving it throughout the population helps prevent citizens from endangering their economy by falling into fraudulent networks. According to recent surveys, more than half of Spaniards have a very low level of financial knowledge.

For this reason, from the Finances for All initiative promoted by the Bank of Spain, the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation; and in which different entities such as Fundación MAPFRE collaborate, it warns of what the most frequent frauds are and how we can avoid them. Being well informed about personal finances and internet security, in addition to acting accordingly, will free us from great disappointment.

According to the CNMV, financial beach bars are those entities that offer and provide investment services without being authorized to do so by the CNMV itself or by the Bank of Spain – and to whom we should go in case of doubt. The risks of falling into one of them is that their services are just a cover to appropriate the capital of their victims, making them believe that they are only making a high-return investment.

They are dangerous because they operate outside the law, eluding controls and the investor is left totally unprotected without guarantee funds. They tend to promise exotic and sophisticated investments that do not justify unsuspecting clients. That high profitability, when other regulated entities cannot offer it, should make us suspicious. Also, that the commercials have a special ability to be credible without fully explaining themselves, insist that the investment be made as soon as possible and do not give importance to the risk factor.

In these cases, the objective of these fraudsters is to obtain our personal or banking data to supplant our identity and thus operate with our accounts and dispose of our funds. Phishing are those emails that appear to be from financial entities or other solvents (energy and telephone companies, public administrations, electronic businesses...) that ask us to click on a link to enter our personal data.

The excuses range from security problems to a service cut if we do not pay a certain debt. After that link, the user goes to a fake website that does not seem to be and where we must give our personal information. Smishing simulates the same technique, although it is through SMS, and vishing –which derives from the combination of voice and phishing– is a telephone fraud that involves a call from a third party pretending to be an employee of a financial institution.

As pointed out by Finance for all, avoiding these frauds is not difficult. Some formulas are not responding to emails, messages or calls that request confidential information; delete them once we receive them; do not download or run attached files; access the website of the entity or company by typing the authentic URL in the address bar and, above all, be wary of anyone who asks us for our access codes to online banking and our card details.

Experts insist that no authorized banking entity calls or sends an email to its clients to ask for personal information or passwords because they already have that information. It is advisable to create complex passwords for each different web page (combining upper and lower case letters, numbers and letters...) and change them frequently. Many mobile devices give us the possibility of obtaining secure passwords and reviewing the level of strength that we have by recommending changes.

With this cybercrime, criminals infect your computer or electronic device with malware to redirect traffic from legitimate websites to fake pages created to collect sensitive data. The problem is that they take us to web pages that seem authentic. In order not to be affected by such a scam, we should use updated antivirus and antimalware; keep operating systems up to date; have a password manager and make sure that the connection is secure, that is, that it has an icon in the address bar, for example a closed padlock, and that it begins with “https”.

Crypto assets, including cryptocurrencies or cryptocurrencies, are a digital representation of value or rights, thus being assets that do not exist physically. There are numerous crypto assets that are fake and aggressively advertised to the public in all kinds of online media. In addition to the incredible profits, the scammers push to make quick decisions so as not to "miss the opportunity". The information is unclear and full of technicalities that confuse the investor.

As they are not a regulated product, crypto assets are outside the protection offered by the current regulations of the European Union on financial services. The CNMV and the Bank of Spain not only recommend us to distrust these tempting investment proposals, but also that we should never invest money in something that we do not understand and whose offer does not include the associated risks. If you want to go further, it is advisable to see if these companies are on the authorities' warning blacklist.

Some scammers pose as tech support staff from a well-known investment platform, bank, or other company, claiming that there is a problem with your device and that you need to download an app for them to fix it by working remotely. If you pay attention to them, they access your computer and can get hold of your passwords. Others, however, are able to establish a friendship or sentimental relationship with you through a false profile.

Catfishing, which refers to the use of a false identity on the Internet, can be the first step so that, once trust is established, they ask us for money by inventing a personal drama or they encourage you to make an investment that is a bargain that few people known. Even as the relationship strengthens and if you have shared intimate images, they can extort you later or send you links to view videos or digital cards that are malicious files to obtain your data.

From Finances for all they insist that staying vigilant about managing our money and expanding our financial culture will free us from many risks. So if you think that investment is too good to be true, it probably is. And if you suspect a strange call or message asking for your personal data or an amount of money, you will also be right.

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