Singaporeans are renowned for being resourceful, enterprising, and hardworking. Unfortunately, many scam artists in the country are also Singaporean.
So, they’ll use innovative tactics to get your money.
Plus, now they have access to technology, making it much easier for them to scam you. There’s more bad news:
COVID increased the number of scams by over 20 times at the beginning of 2020 compared to the previous year. So apparently, going through a pandemic is a fruitful business opportunity for some.
To avoid getting duped yourself, read the article below as we discuss the five most common scams in Singapore. After reviewing these, we’ll also tell you how to identify scams and how to report them.
1. Carousell Scams
Online purchase scams have multiplied because so many Singaporeans are using this platform. Here’s how a standard swindler can trick you:
- They ask for you to pay them before they send you the item.
- They ask for additional payments, such as GST.
- They ask for personal information, such as a copy of your identity card. But if you send them this info, fraudsters can steal your identity.
Here’s what you should do:
- Read customer reviews about the seller you’re dealing with.
- Don’t transfer anyone the money in advance. Instead, use Caroupay so that the app keeps your cash in escrow until the transaction is finished and everyone’s happy.
- Ask sellers to use registered mail only so that you can track the package.
- Arrange a face-to-face meeting if the item you’re buying is expensive.
2. Social Media Scams
Social media scams happen like this:
- A scammer copies one of your friends’ or loved one’s accounts.
- Next, they contact you with a story about an online promotion or winning a contest.
- However, they allegedly need your bank details or personal info to score that deal.
- Of course, scammers will use your information for future fraudulent transactions.
Here’s what to do:
- Firstly, advise your friends to protect their social media and use two-step verification on WhatsApp.
- Follow your instincts. If one of your friends sends you a message and doesn’t sound like themselves, call them back or contact them on another platform.
- If one of your friends say they’ve been getting weird messages from your account, don’t write them off.
3. Internet Banking/ E-commerce Scams
Hackers can hijack your internet banking account or accounts you have on several e-commerce platforms. At this point, they start buying things with your money.
If you’re not monitoring your credit cards and accounts carefully, this situation can go on for a long time.
So here’s what you have to do:
- Make a habit of checking your accounts monthly.
- Use strong passwords.
- Change those passwords at regular interviews.
- Close any accounts you’re no longer using so that you won’t have to pay attention to those too.
- Avoid linking your cards on e-commerce platforms just for convenience’s sake because this increases the risk of getting hacked.
- If you have to link your cards e-commerce accounts, use just one credit card to minimise the risk of future fraudulent transactions.
- Use legit mobile payment apps like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayNow.
4. Phone Scams
Texting is much more common than calling people nowadays. So, if you get an unsolicited call from someone talking in Chinese and sounding desperate – it’s probably a scam.
Here’s what you have to do:
- Calm down. If they called with bad news and asked for money, check the information on other channels if you can.
- Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers abroad. You’ll recognise these numbers because they start with “+”.
- Use ScamShield. Singapore’s Government Technology Agency developed this app to help people filter scam texts and calls, using a comprehensive database of scam numbers.
5. Rental Scams
There are several types of rental scams in Singapore:
- The swindler says they’ll pay you the rent in advance, but they need your account and personal info, such as NRIC, or:
- The fraudster rents your property and immediately sublets it to someone else. They’ll pay your rent for a couple of months before they skip town while they keep collecting the payments from their subtenant.
- The tenant puts your property on Airbnb at a higher price. They continue to pay you your rent diligently, as they make a nice profit from people on Airbnb.
- The person renting your property uses it for illegal goods or as a brothel.
You can avoid all that if:
- You visit your property often.
- Ask the neighbours to alert you if anything looks off.
How Do You Know If You’re Being Scammed?
The first step to knowing if you’re being scammed is to keep your eyes open. Be vigilant and follow the news to learn what swindlers are coming up with now.
Of course, you should constantly monitor your:
- Social media accounts
- Bank accounts
- Credit card statements
Here’s how you’ll know that something is fishy:
- Someone asks you for very personal information, including passwords, PIN codes, or credit card numbers online.
- Sellers ask you to transfer their money before sending you their items.
- Some scammers can ask you to receive money or gift cards.
- Someone contacts you with an opportunity that sounds too good to be true, such as an investment with a huge profit that you have just a few hours to apply for.
- The scammer can pretend to call on behalf of your friend or family member.
- They’ll use manipulation and FOMO.
- You are being asked to transfer or receive money or to purchase items like gift cards.
- You are asked to pay for something in advance before receiving the item.
- You are being asked to transfer payment somewhere when it is not usually standard practice (e.g. in the case of Carousell, where payment is generally made in cash in person).
- You are being asked for your NRIC, personal details, banking details or passwords/pin codes.
- An investment opportunity sounds too good to be true.
I’ve Been Scammed. What Do I Do Now?
- Contact your bank ASAP if you notice someone’s been charging your credit card. You should also contact the bank if you just realised you’ve transferred money to a swindler. The bank will block your card, they’ll look into the matter, and they’ll give you your money back.
- Call the police. They’ll investigate your case, and they’ll try to catch the crooks. If the fraudsters aren’t local, it will be hard arresting them, though.
How To Report A Scam In Singapore
If you believe that someone scammed you, call 1800-722-6688. This hotline pertains to the police and the National Crime Prevention Council, and it’s dedicated explicitly to Singaporeans who’ve been scammed.
Pro tip: You can also call this number if the scam didn’t take place yet, but you suspect someone. Alternatively, call the hotline for more advice – for example, if an investment opportunity turns up or if you’re suspecting an Internet love scam.
Once you’re sure you’ve been scammed, contact the police to file a report. Remember to bring all the evidence you have, such as:
- Screenshots of your online conversations
Even if the police can’t catch this swindler and get you your money back, you should still help the authorities with information to stop the scammers from robbing anyone else again.