The liquidity, accessibility, and transparency of cryptocurrency are both its greatest strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, in today’s world, your cryptocurrency is an incredibly valuable asset to criminals as they use these features to their advantage. Because transactions are highly liquid, portable, and impossible to revert, scams have flooded the digital realm. However, there are many simple ways to avoid these scams while also enjoying the benefits of cryptocurrency. Let us show you how to keep your funds safe.
Technical Support and Impersonation Scams
Fraudsters set up scam customer support phone lines and impersonate a variety of companies in the finance, tech, retail, telecom, and service industries. However, the pure complexity of the crypto market as a whole allows scammers to target users through fraudulent support. Scam phone numbers are spammed on the internet, luring users seeking assistance. The scammers may also reach out to users offering assistance under a fake title or company, providing personal information or go to all types of lengths to uphold their fake claim to deceive and manipulate users. Additionally, scammers will create fake apps and direct users to download, some of which mimic popular ones. You should only download applications from the official website or from a link given by a trusted source. To avoid exposure to fraudulent activity, never give support staff or anyone access to your machine, this ensures protection of your computer, online financial accounts, and digital life. Never give out your 2-Factor Authentication security codes or any passwords, it is unlikely companies will need information this secure to help you out. Never accept outbound calls asking for your confidential personal information. And lastly, only use support contact info from a companies legitimate website or use it to cross check the support information.
Phishing involves a scammer impersonating a person or company to extract personal data from victims. It can take place across many mediums – telephone, email, fake websites or messaging apps. Messaging apps scams are particularly common in the cryptocurrency environment. The methodology will vary, but common tactics involve notifications about errors or bugs in your account that prompt the usage of a link or software to fix. That link will redirect to a fake website – similar to the original one – that will prompt you to log in. A common Telegram scam sees the scammer lurking in official groups for crypto wallets or exchanges. When a user reports a problem in this group, the scammer will reach out to the user privately, impersonating customer support or team members. Similarly to tech support impersonation, always verify the person or domain via the origin site or organization, and never give your private keys to anyone.
Social Media Scams
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Social media has become an essential part of our lives and is very helpful for news and entertainment. However, scammers use these normalized platforms to target users. Giveaways can be tempting, especially when it seems like you'll get free money back. For example, “send us 1 BTC and you'll get 5x that back!” This should raise two red flags.
First, always avoid giveaways that require you to first send your own money. Second, it is nearly impossible to significantly increase your earnings via something like, put a small sum down now and get more money back!
Although it may sound tempting, do not participate and avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, messages like this may become even more intriguing as they look like they're coming from a brand you're familiar with. Scammers create look alike accounts to try to trick users as well as creating an illusion with gracious comments- these are just fake accounts or bots deployed as part of the giveaway scam. Before engaging in any type of social media giveaway or anything that requires your information or money, take a closer look at the profiles and you’ll see the differences likely in the Twitter handles or Facebook profiles. Cross check the social accounts with the companies website or alternative media accounts. However, the biggest rule of thumb is that the legitimate ones will never ask you to send funds first.
Investment scams claim to offer high, unrealistic, yields or returns if you send cryptocurrency to a person, company, or other entity. Scammers often set up seemingly legitimate websites, email addresses, and social accounts for fraudulent trading services, investment offers, cloud mining services, ponzi schemes, and escrow services. Guaranteed profits or duplicating returns should always be a red flag. Commonly, you’ll see this scheme disguised as a portfolio management service and the “returns'' received are just other investors’ money. In a pyramid scheme, an organizer recruits a certain number of people to work on the level beneath them, and each of those people will recruit their own number of people. In the context of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, controversial projects like OneCoin, Bitconnect, and PlusToken have been questioned, with users taking legal action against them for allegedly operating pyramid schemes. Be suspicious of websites or services promising high returns or unrealistic investment opportunities. Again, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. It is very important to do your research. Check consumer-protection websites, make telephone calls, send emails to verify authenticity, and only send cryptocurrency to trusted third parties backed up by publicly verifiable reviews or articles involving the recipient.
Now that you're up to speed on different types of crypto scams, where to look out for them, and how to avoid them, you can navigate the crypto market feeling more secure and aware. Checkout the takeaways below and remain constantly vigilant with protecting your crypto!
- Be aware of the different types of scams
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Always check that you’re using official customer service information
- Download applications from a trusted source
- Do your research! Investigate authenticity with verifiable reviews
- Never give away your personal keys or passwords to anyone
- Be aware of impersonators
- Use Two factor authentication