Google has three rules for avoiding scams: How to stay safe

Unfortunately, one doesn't have to look far to find internet scam horror stories these days, especially in the age of COVID-19. Internet scams were already prevalent before the pandemic, but now that it's in full swing, there's a lot of fear and uncertainty for these scammers to take advantage of. Google and the Cybercrime Support Network are looking to do something about that, announcing that they've teamed up to create a new website called Scam Spotter.

Scam Spotter exists to help people become better at recognizing scams before any damage can be done. In the announcement on the Google Blog today, Google VP and chief internet evangelist Vint Cerf cited Federal Trade Commission statistics showing that a whopping $1.9 billion was lost to scams last year – far from a paltry sum, which ensures that there will always be scammers trying to squeeze money out of unwitting victims.

It's easy enough to say that it isn't going to happen to you, but as Cerf points out, these scam phone calls and messages can cloud judgment, especially if they happen during an already stressful time. Google and Cybercrime have come up with three rules to remember when dealing with suspect phone calls or alerts.

The first rule is to slow things down and ask questions so you aren't rushed into a bad decision. The second is to research the institution these suspected scammers claim to be from. The third is arguably the most important rule of them all, as it urges people not to send payment by noting that if a payment feels fishy, it probably is.

The Scam Spotter website is live now, and in addition to listing these three golden rules, it also has resources on the types of scams that are out there, along with a quiz that tasks you with identifying if a series of messages constitute a scam. It could be a helpful resource for those who aren't as familiar with all the different types of internet scams, so here's hoping it helps.