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Fear of getting scammed? Our tech expert explains how to keep yourself safe

As technology becomes more sophisticated, so do the scams that take advantage of people. Luckily, there are numerous things you can do to keep yourself safe from swindlers. Many products do most of the work for you, making it less likely that you'll fall victim to a scam. We spoke with our tech expert, Jaime Vazquez, to learn more about common scams and what you can do to avoid them.

How to recognize a scam

"The first thing to know is that the vast majority of security breaches happen through social engineering," Vazquez said. "You should be aware of people looking to interact. For example, if anybody asks for a passcode or says, 'Hey, I got locked out of my account,' it could be a scam."

Be wary of anyone requesting personal information online, even if it's someone you know personally. Social engineers regularly gain access to people's online accounts and use them to glean information from others.

Lately, scammers have been using texts to take advantage of people. If you receive a text from an unknown number, it's best to ignore it, even if it suggests you've won a prize. "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Vazquez said. 

Tips for avoiding online scams

Consider buying a modem and router rather than renting them from your internet service provider. Many routers have built-in security features, such as parental controls, integrated firewalls and virtual private networks. You'll often pay a monthly fee for these additional features. Still, the services are usually relatively affordable and worth the peace of mind.

"The dilemma is that you're handing your traffic over to a third party," Vazquez said. "Some may prefer creating their own security infrastructure with something like Firewalla." These firewall devices are ideal for homes and businesses and have numerous levels of protection from viruses, malware, hacking and phishing. 

Multi-factor authentication is another vital tool to consider when trying to avoid scams. There are numerous password manager tools offering password randomization features. These tools create strong, randomized passwords and keep track of them for you. They typically remind you to change them regularly and let you know if your password is sold on the dark web. Products like the Yubikey give you a physical multi-factor authentication that's even more secure than software-based MFA.

Tips for avoiding offline scams

Video doorbells offer an easy solution for real-life scammers, as they record and store videos of anyone approaching your door. You can use these devices to speak to guests without opening your door for an extra layer of security. 

You'll likely want to consider an item finder like the Tile Mate or Apple AirTag if you regularly take your bag or belongings to cafes, malls or airports. Item trackers are typically affordable and help you keep up with lost or stolen items.

Scam safety FAQ

Q. What is phishing?

A. Phishing is one of the most common online scams. This method typically involves someone asking you for personal information. These swindlers pretend to work for a well-known company that needs your information for a specific reason. For example, they may send mass emails suggesting a package can't be delivered without additional details. Many who receive this email will ignore it, but some may be expecting packages and provide the schemers with sensitive information.

Q. What are some other common scams?

A. Money-making schemes are a popular way scammers get your personal information. In many cases, this scheme involves a site that promises an easy way for you to make a lot of money quickly. The promised methodology might require you to provide personal information to sign up and may even require you to enter your debit card number to pay for their service. 

Fake shopping websites and form-jacking schemes are other popular ways swindlers steal your personal information. Fake shopping websites typically offer unique products you won't see anywhere else or name-brand products at outrageous discounts. These sites collect your data as you purchase the fake offers and use it however they see fit. 

Form-jacking schemes typically happen when a well-known e-commerce site is hacked. This scam redirects you to a new URL during the checkout process to collect your information. In many cases, these URLs look similar to the site you were using but may contain an additional letter or a single letter in the wrong place.

Best scam-safety products

Asus ROG Strix AX5400 Wi-Fi 6 Router

This router lets you run a VPN and traditional internet simultaneously, meaning you can switch between them to prioritize speed or safety. It's significantly faster than many of its competitors. Many said they were impressed with the regular security updates.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


This helps protect you from viruses and online scams on private and public networks. You can control it from your smartphone. It has built-in parental controls, allowing you to block adult content, see what your kids are doing online or limit internet access for specific devices.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Yubico YubiKey 5 NFC Security Key

This offers a physical solution for keeping your online accounts safe. It's surprisingly durable. Compatible services will require you to insert this into your USB-A port to access your account.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Ring Video Doorbell 3

This features HD video doorbell surveillance and text notifications when it detects movement. It can be installed wirelessly or using your doorbell's wired connection.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Tile Mate Item Finder

This is compact and easy to set up. It can be used within 250 feet of your phone, although outside factors can reduce its range. It's available in black, white or blue.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Apple AirTag

This slim item finder uses Apple's Find My network to expand its range. It has a built-in speaker that makes it easier to find lost items.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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