When it comes to online scams, are you an easy target?

The truth is, anyone can be a victim.

Scams often target people desperate for cash – you may be keen on that get-rich-quick scheme your cousin told you about, which promises high returns.

But those profits seem suspiciously high compared to returns offered by licensed financial institutions.

Scammers also target retirees who have just started to receive their pension.

Imagine you suddenly receive a windfall of cash and are keen to invest. Be wary that you could be manipulated by a charming finance guru who promises to grow your money, but in reality is looking for an easy pay day. (Reminder: Always check that any finance or investment professional is licensed by the Brunei Darussalam Central Bank.) 

As consumers, we are also exposed to the risk of online fraud. 

For example, in online shopping scams, fraudsters use fake profiles to “sell” items at cheap prices, but once payment is made the goods never arrive or don’t work as advertised.

Cyber Security Brunei (CSB), a national agency that monitors online security threats, said online shopping scams are rampant on social media, particularly via the “Sponsored” sections on different apps. 

“Sponsored” doesn’t mean a product is 100% legitimate, anyone can use the paid feature as part of their marketing.

It’s time to check which of your online behaviours could be putting you at risk.

For example, do you use your birth date as a password? Do you give out your IC number so you can enter a lucky draw? 

Scammers often use technology or social engineering tools (such as making enticing offers of money or prizes) to elicit sensitive information that can be used to defraud you.

They also try to appear legitimate by using the logos of established financial institutions such as banks or insurance agencies, by using their logos or showing fake ATM slips or screenshots from internet banking apps. 

Cyber Security Brunei recommends the following tips to keep you safe:

• Never give out personal information to anyone, such as bank login details, credit/debit card details or a one-time password (OTP). Legitimate organisations will never call, email, or SMS to ask for your personal information. 

• Always verify the authenticity of any text message or identity of a caller claiming to be from a financial institution or government agency.  

• Don’t click on suspicious links. Never enter personal or credit card information on dubious websites; reply to/click on any unexpected links; and never reply to emails or ads that say you’ve won something.

• Filter your friends and followers on social media. Set your social media profile to private.

• Don’t believe in promotions that seem too good to be true.

What to do if you’re the victim of an online scam

If you think you have been a victim of online scam, report the incident immediately to your nearest police station. You can expedite the process by preparing a draft statement beforehand in Malay or English.

Print out any screenshots of messages, conversations or documents shared between you and the scammer. Your report should also include the phone number, email address or URL used by the scammer. 

If you suspect that your bank account or personal information has been compromised, let your bank know immediately!

If your social media accounts have been compromised, it is important to notify all your contacts and report the incident to the respective social media platform.

If in doubt, you can always reach out to CyberSecurity Brunei for advice, via their hotline at 2458001 (24 hours), WhatsApp at 7170766, or email at reporting@brucert.org.bn.