When faraway princes are after your heart and Insta-buddies are after your OTP, the best thing you can do for your life’s savings is to follow these life-saving tips.

The Internet has brought us an unprecedented level of convenience but not without new dangers. Fraudsters are increasingly taking advantage of our online habits to run scams on unwitting victims, stripping them of millions of dollars in the process.

In the first three months of the year, scammers cheated victims in Singapore of at least $41.3 million. Of this amount, at least $1.3 million were lost through e-commerce and social media scams. 

This is against a larger trend of reported scam crimes increasing in Singapore, surging 54% in 2019 over the previous year. Police statistics show that the top 10 scam types reported in 2019 accounted for a staggering $168 million in losses with e-commerce, business email impersonation (aka phishing), social media impersonation and tech support scams among the most lucrative for fraudsters. 

The authorities, in response, have set up a new task force to deal with the issue. Established in mid-2019, the Police’s Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) focuses on disrupting scam operations and helping victims mitigate losses. One of the ASC’s strategies is to expedite a freeze of scam-related accounts within days, effectively cutting off scammers from robbing more. 

While the authorities believe in prompt action, the single best way to avoid being scammed is to prevent any opportunity for scams in the first place. This is especially true when it comes to cyber attacks and online scams. Their prevention, basically, boils down to being extra cautious and to approach every transaction with a healthy dose of skepticism. 

We try to detail out some common cyber attacks and online scams, and share tips on how to prevent falling victim to each. 

Phishing I SingSaver

1. Banking scams: Preying on negligence 

Online banking has become so common that it’s easy to let our guard down. A recent SingSaver survey shows a definitive shift towards online banking that has resulted in greater concerns over data security. A whopping 72% of Singaporeans admitted that they were anxious about online data security due to increased online banking in our post-pandemic world. 

This is where scams targeting bank customers figure. Among the most common banking scams are phishing attacks, which are attempts to trick you into providing your password or credentials in order to steal your money. This is commonly carried out through a false website or email that is set up to look like the real thing. 

However, look closely and you’ll spot many telltale signs — obvious typos, misspellings, wrong tenses — you know all that grammar that you learnt in primary school English lessons. 

For many phishing scammers, English is not their native language. This means that the email that looks like it came from your bank, but is riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes, warrants much closer inspection, and probably a quick trip to your spam folder. The same goes for dodgy websites and SMSes. In short, be a Grammar Nazi when it comes to bank correspondences — more often than not, it can protect you from falling victim to scams. 

Another common banking scam is the money mule scheme, which recruits unsuspecting individuals to send or receive money on their behalf, sometimes in exchange for receiving a small fee. This is illegal and, by taking part, you can be implicated as an accomplice. 

A third common banking scam involves the scammer contacting you to say that your bank account has be