Intensified alert needed to fight online fraud during virus outbreak

Internet penetration has significantly grown over the past six months as a result of the governments’ confinement measures to keep the coronavirus outbreak at bay.

Six months into spreading and now clocking seven million cases with two million deaths globally, world leaders required citizens to remain at home for an indefinite period to combat the spread until a successful vaccine gets developed.

Thanks to technology, people who felt snatched of the normal way of living did away with boredom and mental health by reading books, subscribing to fitness channels, surfing the internet, streaming TV shows online, reading books, and online shopping.

Consultancy and research company Media Partners Asia said that internet users in the region have increased to 58 billion from 36.4 billion between January and April 11 as people carried out most tasks online.

Owing to the confinement measures and the continued increase in mobile penetration, online casino provider GClub was expecting the e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia (SEA) to jump significantly.

It said that the SEA e-commerce market was expected to be valued at $300 billion come 2025 from only $32 billion in 2015 and $100 billion in 2019.

GClub said the expected pick-up will be attributed to consumer’s changing behaviors as most activities have turned from “bricks” to “clicks.”

Last year alone, SEA countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam had 150 million, 57 million, 25.28 million, 4.92 million, 76 million, and 64 million mobile internet users, respectively.

However, it cannot be denied that the presence of crimes—particularly online crimes, will always ride the continued online market boom. Like most people, online scammers can be at home and bored, while some may have borne the brunt of unemployment due to the crashing economy and will avoid hunger and poverty through bad deeds. And unemployment was expected to continue increasing until the global situation starts to normalize.

According to a report by US-based The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN, the deadly virus and its spread have led to “an explosion of cybercrime” with criminals preying on people who are desperate for ways to protect themselves and those they love, thus the need for people and businesses to double their alertness.

Recognizing Phishing

Online scams are done in various ways: may they be a phone call, text messages, and e-mails that seem “too good to be true.” Most often, they copy the layout of legitimate emails but a person keen to details always knows how to identify what are phishing messages and what is not.

Scammers use all messaging platforms to trick people into giving them your personal information. They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers, bank pins, and whatnot. If they gather such information, they could gain access to personal accounts such as social media or worse, your bank accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks daily and they are often successful.

Minimizing Fraud Risks

While this is already a bit of “never-gets-old” advice, the best and safest bet for a person to avoid scams is to “never click” any tab unless the person is sure that an e-mail came from a legitimate person or organization.

Next, be an observer. It doesn’t hurt to read every word in the e-mail no matter how long the e-mail may be, as most often than not, scam e-mails bear spelling and grammatical errors.

Third, when opening new accounts whether it be a social media or a bank account, always keep multi-way factor authentication on such as passcode sent via text message, or a fingerprint, face, and iris scan. This way, you would be notified when someone tries to breeze through your accounts.

Fourth, check the e-mail address and compare it to the e-mail address posted on a legitimate organization’s website. If the addresses are the same, you can be sure that the e-mail is legitimate.

Fifth, protect your data by backing up and ensure that such backups are not connected to your home network. You may copy information on your hard drive or cloud storage.