Asia’s Top Internet Scams and How to Stay Safe

Telenor Group Study underscores the importance of protecting personal information online.

Written: Mar 2016

Reading Time: 4 minutes

InternerScams_feb01032016As internet accessibility in Asia continues to expand, so too do the ways that internet scams infiltrate consumers’ personal information. In an effort to educate people on the most notorious scams in Asia, Telenor Group released the results of an Internet Scams study showing the top five scams in the region are:

1. ‘Work from home’ fraud – 36%

A scam whereby users are either fooled into paying someone online to help them start a business, only for nothing to materialize, or users are tricked into completing work on their computer but never receive payment.

2. Internet auction scams – 16%

An online item is purchased, but once the scammer has received payment, they do not deliver the purchased item.

3. Fake bank e-mail – 15%

E-mails carefully crafted to look nearly identical to those by actual banks and lure people into entering in their private customer information.

4. Online dating scam – 14%

Con artists earn the trust of their victims via online dating sites to steal personal information or money.

5. Identity theft – 13%

Online actions designed to fraudulently acquire and use a person’s private information, usually for financial gain through fake websites and e-mails.

The multi-market survey assessed the impact of scams on 400 internet users aged 18 – 65+ in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and India and was conducted to provide a better understanding of the common online scam methods. The results additionally glean the best internet scam prevention methods from experienced users, in order for netizens in Asia to gain more insight on the subject.

With 71% of respondents admitting to being an ‘internet addict,’ the results show that Internet scams are a big concern to Asian consumers today. Markedly, the study revealed that the average financial loss of scammed survey participants was $9900 (USD) per person across the four markets. This comes despite nearly 94% of those surveyed stating the internet has improved their life and a further 80% believing it has helped strengthen personal relationships. And now with the rise of mobile broadband, consumers in Asia consider themselves three times more likely to fall victim to a scam on their smartphone than in person.

Preventing Online Scams

While online scams are real, they are equally preventable. Overwhelmingly, more than 80% of the survey’s respondents believe it is the responsibility of individuals to ensure they’re safe online.

Of the methods currently available, below are the top five ways to avoid online scams in Asia according to survey respondents:

1. Delete all e-mails that seem to be suspicious and untrustworthy.

This can include an e-mail you don’t recognise, or a person you have never who begin e-mailing you. Be aware of anyone asking for personal details, money, or being too friendly without knowing them. Another giveaway is spelling mistakes and e-mail addresses that aren’t official. When in doubt, the best idea is to delete it.

2. Ignore advertisements and offers that appear “too good to be true.”

Online nowadays there are so many ads and pop ups offering amazing deals. A popular one is the image of a young female ‘single mother’ holding a large amount of money from her ‘work from home’ arrangement. Just as in the real world, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is.

3. Update your anti-malware software.

This allows your computer to actively check for malware or viruses when you are online, and protect your system real-time. Some of the most innocuous things, like ads for applications to clean your Mac, can actually be viruses that get embedded in your system just through one click. So anti-malware software is a great second line of defense for scammers that get past you.

4. Undertake online research about scams to educate yourself.

One of the best things you can do is search online scams through Google or other search engines. Informing yourself on how scams reach unsuspecting netizen and how they are executed will make you more aware of any potential threats. Also, as new scams pop up daily, it’s good to research regularly.

5. Share knowledge and preventive ideas with friends and family through social media.

Recently there was a spate of Facebook hacking, but thankfully those who had been hacked shared their experience on their newsfeeds and in turn friends shared this information even further, avoiding many more stolen passwords. If you experience a scam, or you learn about one, talk to your friends and family about it; and share it on your social media platforms to educate others of the dangers.

Internet scams snapshots by country