Common Scams and How to Stay Protected



Graphic of a scammer trying to steal information.

Lucy Lu, Photojournalist

Scammers are everywhere, constantly seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. It’s crucial to stay alert and informed to protect yourself from falling victim to their deceptive tactics. To stay safe this aims to shed light on common scams and provide you with simple steps to protect your hard-earned money and personal information.

Many scams can be easily trapped as you never meet the scammer. Beware of unsolicited emails, texts, or calls requesting personal and sensitive information like passwords or financial details. Legitimate organizations won’t contact you in such ways.  

Examples include lottery or sweepstakes scams. If you receive a message claiming you’ve won a prize but need to pay a fee to collect it, don’t do it. Legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes do not require upfront payment of any kind. There are also online purchase scams. This is why when buying goods or services online, verify the seller’s reputation, read reviews, and use secure payment methods. Be wary of prices that just seem too good to be true. To stay protected, trust your instincts and be cautious of offers that seem too good to be true. If something feels suspicious, it likely is.

Protect your personal information everywhere. Don’t even share sensitive details like Social Security numbers, bank account information, or passwords unless it is necessary and with trusted sources. Use strong, unique passwords whenever possible. Furthermore, verify before trusting. Try to search and verify the legitimacy of any organization, company, or individual before providing personal or financial information. Double-check email addresses and phone numbers to ensure they are legitimate.

It is also important to keep software updated. Regularly updating your operating system, web browser, and antivirus software helps to protect against the latest scams and security vulnerabilities. To add to that, be cautious online. Really think about all the information you share on social media platforms. Scammers often use personal details from social media to personalize their scams. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown people.

Last but not least, educate yourself. Stay informed about the latest scamming techniques and share your knowledge with friends and family. By spreading awareness, you can help protect others from falling victim to scams.

You shouldn’t always trust what you see, because bad things always happen in the parts you don’t see

— Yafu Yu (9)

Scammers are persistent, but by understanding common scams and implementing simple precautions, you can significantly reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Think before you act, and as Yafu Yu (9), a student at YL states, “You shouldn’t always trust what you see, because bad things always happen in the parts you don’t see.” Protect your personal information, and stay updated with the latest scams. By just taking a few simple steps, you can protect yourself and enjoy a safer online experience.