Tips to Prevent Online Scams


By next year, it is projected that Malaysia will have 21 million smartphone users.

Nowadays, it is hard to imagine life as we know it without smartphones.

Mobile technology and the Internet have become such integral parts of our lives, from working and shopping to the way we order food and commute.

However, they have also given rise to online scams which seem to have become more rampant as scammers become more wily while victims have little to no way of recovering their losses.

The sad reality is that anyone with access to the Internet and mobile communication devices can be duped if they are not careful.

In March, it was reported that Malaysians lost over RM1.6 billion to online scams between 2019 and last year, with 51,631 cases reported over the three-year period.

That works out to an average of almost 50 cases per day.

And the numbers only seem to be showing an upward trend.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Jonathan Yasin also noted that most of these scams involved online purchases, followed by loan scams.

Malaysians should learn about the prevalent scams to which many have fallen victim, so they can be aware of these scammers’ modus operandi while learning of ways they can keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Besides online and loan scams, other online scams in Malaysia include:

PHISHING scams, a type of cyberattack where perpetrators imitate legitimate organisations or individuals that victims may be familiar with via text, email, direct messages, advertisements or other means to trick them into revealing sensitive information.

EMPLOYMENT scams, where scammers advertise fake jobs on social media, job sites, or WhatsApp messages with attractive remuneration but with little information, with the intention to trick potential victims into providing personal information and transferring money to secure the job.

LOVE scams, also known as catfishing or romance scams, where fraudsters prey on single, lonely individuals online through social media and dating applications to trick them into transferring money.

Information on these and other scams are available on the Internet and users should get educated about these scams to protect not only themselves, but also their savings and identity.

It is important to always perform background checks when faced with potential scammers and not reveal personal information via text, email or social media.

Moreover, it is also crucial to not rush into being coerced or into making rash decisions.

More often than not, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Additionally, Internet and smartphone users should familiarise themselves with the avenues and channels available to them to report suspicious activities should they believe they are facing a possible scam, or have already fallen victim to one.

Among these include the Complaints Bureau of the Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (Content Forum).

Established in 2001 as an independent body under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the Content Forum encourages the public to practise self-regulation online in order to be more aware of fraudulent content and avoid falling victim to scams.

The Content Forum is empowered to address all complaints relating to content disseminated over electronic networks, and investigate possible breaches of the Content Code, mediate disputes, adjudicate cases, publish orders and impose sanctions where necessary.

The Complaints Bureau accepts complaints from industry players, as well as the public, and also plays an advisory role to any party that requires guidance on electronic content matters.

Last year, the Complaints Bureau of the Content Forum looked into 308 cases from the public related to online scams, including those related to SMS, phone calls, fake sellers and fraudulent activity on social media platforms.

Meanwhile, from December last year to April this year, the Content Forum’s Complaints Bureau looked into 195 cases related to scams, including on platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook and Instagram, involving investment and online purchase scams.

The Content Forum is also responsible for the creation and update of the Content Code, the principal source for industry self-regulation.

People who encounter fraudulent content may contact the Complaints Bureau of the Content Forum via the complaints portal made available in the official website.

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