There are many types of internet fraud, and too often scammers exploit people who are simply looking for a way to make some quick money. Whether it's an email promising a large sum of money if you help someone transfer funds out of their country, or a fake online shopping site that's really just a front for stealing your credit card information, it's important to be aware of the different types of online fraud.
We will provide examples of each type of fraud or scam, explain what the scammers' goals are, and give you advice on how to avoid them. Keep yourself and your assets safe by staying informed about these fraudulent activities!
A phishing scam is a type of fraud that involves scammers trying to trick you into giving them your personal or financial information.
These scams come in two varieties:
- Phishing Website
- Email Phishing Scams
Phishing sites are websites that are designed to look like legitimate sites but are actually created by scammers for the purpose of stealing your personal information. These types of sites are often used to imitate online banking sites or other types of financial websites. The scammer will usually create a fake login page where they will ask you to enter your personal information, such as your username, password, credit card number, and other sensitive data.
Email Phishing Scams
Email phishing is similar to phishing websites, but the scammer will send you an email that looks like it's from a legitimate company or organization. The email will often have a link to a fake website, or may even contain attachments that install malicious software on your computer. The goal of these types of scams is to trick you into giving them your personal information or to install malware on your computer that can be used to steal your information.
How to Avoid Phishing Scams
The best way to avoid phishing scams is to be suspicious of any email or website that asks for personal information. If you're unsure whether something is real, always contact the company directly to confirm its authenticity.
Family Member Needs Help Email
Be wary of anyone who contacts you by email asking for help. You may receive a message from an alleged "relative" or friend in need because they are supposedly stranded or have been in an accident and require money for medical bills. They will beg and plead with you to send them funds immediately. Do not succumb to this scam! If you get one of these messages, call the supposed sender to confirm their story before sending any money.
Installing Malicious Software or Malware Scams
Malware is a software that can destroy your computer or steal your personal information. You might install malware on your computer without even knowing it if you click on a false email attachment or visit the wrong website. Once installed, getting rid of malware can be hard to do. To stop this kind of scam, never open attachments from people you don't know and be careful about which websites you visit.
Malware often disguises itself within commonly downloaded programs. Overt tactics, such as forced advertisements or search engine optimizations, are used to outrank the legitimate site hosting the program. When people see these fake websites before the actual download site and click on them, they unknowingly install malicious software onto their computer.
Work From Home Scams
Given that more people now want to work remotely, this type of fraud has become increasingly prevalent. With this specific scam, you'll either get an email or see an online ad claiming there's a fantastic opportunity to work from home.
However, you have to pay a fee upfront in order to get started.
These fees typically amount to several hundred dollars, and unfortunately, once you've paid, it's almost impossible to receive a refund.
The fees might be called "required training materials" but even after payment, you won't receive anything in return and all attempts at contact will go unanswered.
Research any potential work-from-home job you come across to avoid scams and only apply for legitimate positions.
Most people have a lot of stress in their lives because of debt. So, when someone comes along and offers to help you get rid of your debt quickly and easily, it can be tempting to listen. But beware! There are no shortcuts when it comes to credit repair.
These fraudsters will con you by saying they can get in touch with your creditors to negotiate lower interest rates or even erase some of what you owe. Of course, this "premium service" comes at the cost of an upfront fee that you'll never see again.
Unfortunately, this scam mostly affects those people who are most desperate and willing to explore other options.
Look for legitimate sites like nerdwallet.com for educational materials and options with real companies that may help.
You receive an email saying you've won a foreign lottery. The message includes just enough personal information to make it seem legitimate, but you know you never even entered any contest. They will ask you to pay taxes or fees in order to collect your "winnings". or request some personal information for 'verification". They are the first steps fraudsters take in stealing your identity.
Fake Shopping Websites
Steer clear of fake shopping sites by doing your research before making any online purchases. These knock-off websites are designed to look like the real deal, right down to the name and logo. But beware! The only purpose of these fraudulent sites is to steal your credit card information.
Another type of fake shopping site is one that appears to be real, but doesn't actually ship the product after receiving payment. These scammers rely on delay tactics and hope that people will either forget about their order or get so frustrated they give up trying to find out what happened.
Bank Account Scams
The Fake Shopping site scam is similar to this one. In both cases, fake websites are created to mimic the design of a traditional bank and its subsidiaries. They use the same images of well-known financial institutions in order to get people to input their bank account information, so they can gain access and clean out the account.
This fraud works by someone pretending to be a representative from your bank. They may have some of your basic information, and they will contact you either by phone or email asking you to verify your account info. If you give them the information, they will have access to your account and can transfer money quickly into other accounts so it's harder for the funds to be recovered.
By the time anyone realizes what has happened, the scammers will have already withdrawn the money.
Wealthy Nigerian Family Scam
The Nigerian scam, also known as advanced fee fraud, is when someone poses as a powerful figure promising a large sum of money if the victim helps them transfer funds out of Nigeria. Commonly, victims are pressured to give personal information or pay fees before receiving the so-called payout. Even though this scheme has been around for some time now, it's still in use today.
In order to protect yourself from this type of fraud, do not engage with unknown persons over email or any other platform. If you receive a message purporting to come from a Nigerian Prince or anyone else in a position of power, do not provide them with your personal details.
Someone creates a fake charity to collect money from donors. These scammers will often use a real charity's name or a similar-sounding name. They may also set up a fake website that looks like the charity's real website.
To avoid this type of fraud, only donate to reputable charities that you know and trust. If you're unsure about a charity, you can check to see if it's a registered non-profit organization.
The scammer's goal is to collect people's personal information or money by posting fake job ads on well-known websites. They may use the name of a real company or pose as a recruitment agency to seem more credible.
Here's how you can avoid being scammed: only apply for jobs through reliable sources. If someone gets in touch with you and says they're part of a recruitment agency, look into it more to see if it checks out.
These three platforms are often larger and will have verification that the offer or posting is authentic:
Online Dating – The Romance Scam
A romance scam is a type of online dating scam where someone poses as a potential match to gain the victim's affection. They will then ask for money, usually for a fake emergency.
These people will create fake profiles on dating sites and apps. They may use a stolen picture or pretend to be someone they're not.
To avoid this situation, don't send money to someone you've only met online. If they ask for money, stop communicating with them. You can also do a reverse image search on Google to see if their profile picture is being used on other websites.
Social Media Identity Theft
Social media is a hacker's best friend because there is so much personal information that can be accessed and used to scam people. They will hack into one account, send out friend requests to the victim's friends list, and then start sending messages asking for money or personal information.
In order to protect yourself from this scam, do not click on any dubious links or download files from unfamiliar people. For example, the high school classmate you haven't talked to in 20 years wouldn't all of a sudden start sending you attachments.
You have probably seen people talking about they make side income through taking surveys. While some are real (although the payments are usually very small), many more are scams.
False surveys, created by scammers to acquire personal information or lure you into clicking a malicious link, often mirror the branding of legitimate companies to appear more trustworthy.
The survey will request personal information from you, like your name, address, phone number and email address. They might also insert a link to the survey in the email message itself. If you click on that link, it'll take you to an imitation website that looks just like the real deal. The fake website will ask for more of your personal info or try to get you to download a file.
This scam can be prevented by not clicking on links in emails from unknown senders. If you're questioning the validity of a link, you can check its destination by hovering your mouse over it. Do not click on any links that look suspect.
Quick Tips to Avoid Internet Fraud
Here are a few tips to help you avoid online internet scams:
- Use unique passwords for all sites
- Be careful about sharing personal details on social media.
- Don't overshare personal information or details about your daily routine.
- Never click on links from people you don't know.
- Be especially wary of job offers and other opportunities that require you to pay a fee upfront.
- Avoid sending money online to people you don't know
- Shop at legitimate E-commerce websites only.
- Don't share login credentials or other private information with anyone, ever!
- Keep bank account numbers and credit card details secure
Stay Vigilant to Avoid Online Fraud
By following the tips above, you can make it harder for scammers to target you. Remember to always be vigilant and don't let your guard down. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Keep yourself and your money safe from these predators.
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