In the age of the internet and smartphones, the possibilities of being scammed are basically endless. From simple trick calls to professional emails – robbing strangers from afar has never been easier. That’s why we present to you a few practical tips on how you and your family can protect your loved ones. Especially older family members are potential targets. They often are not familiar with the latest technology, or just can’t wrap their minds around how someone can be so heartless.
Use a separate email address for each website. This makes it easier to track stolen data sets. If a notification from a classified ad comes to the email address of the bank, it can be reported more easily. Do not share this email address with acquaintances or friends. Any message that does not come from this site must be fake.
Go to the settings of every website where you have an account. This could be your bank, etc. In the settings, go to “Change Email Address”. Add a section before the @ that starts with a + and contains, for example, 3 letters. In the following example, I use +wir behind my name at wirhelfen. Of course, you can use any other combination after the plus.
An example of a german scam email telling me to call my “mother” due to a emergency:
Example of changing my email address at WirHelfen: email@example.com becomes firstname.lastname@example.org. This email address is known only to WirHelfen.
All emails sent to this +wir address that do not come directly from WirHelfen must be fake. Because no one else knows this email or would write to it.
But how does this + work? The email provider ignores it and forwards the email to the same address as all emails without the + section. You don’t need to do anything else; the modified emails will arrive in the same mailbox as those without the + section. The login with the mail provider always remains the same, without the + section.
In principle, this is comparable to a fictitious middle name. Letters are still delivered because the first name, last name, and address are still the same.
Write a note with two fake names, one male and one female, e.g., Alex and Josefine. Keep the note with the names next to the phone. If someone calls in a stressed or panicked manner, you have two fake identities ready. If the caller responds to one of the false names, you have two options: simply hang up or, if you dare, play along without giving them any valuable information. Feel free to let your imagination run wild. This blocks the scammer from scamming other people.
This penultimate tip takes a little time but is definitely worth it: Set up a password manager for your loved ones and family. There are many free versions. They create secure passwords for each website and store them locally. Because password124 is not as secure as you might think.
Even the smartest people can be tricked. Scammers are very skilled and it can happen to anyone. Therefore, shame should be excluded in advance. Otherwise, it could happen that family members do not tell that they have been robbed. They are afraid of being ridiculed. For example, who would give out their credit card details on the phone? Make it clear: The faster you react, the better countermeasures can be taken.
So sit down with your family and environment with a cup of tea in the afternoon and implement these tips. Also always suitable as a table conversation and brilliantly filmed in the movies Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen. You can also post an offer on WirHelfen to help people from your neighborhood and all over Germany against scammers and other problems.
Scammers don’t like these tricks!