Web Security

How to Avoid Common Online Scams

Anyone with a bit of internet know-how is likely to understand just how common online scams actually are. We’re all subject to at least a couple of attempts each day, whether it be via emails or social media, or even due to the sites we visit.

Meanwhile, the methods criminals use to extract money or information are getting more sophisticated. Data suggests that social media proved more profitable for scammers in 2021 than any other method of reaching people.

Nobody thinks that they’ll be the victim of an online scam, and that’s one of the reasons why they work so well.

It’s better to be careful, so we’ve listed some of the most common methods fraudsters use below, as well as tips and tricks that will leave you better protected while you’re online.

The 20 Most Common Online Scams

Online scams can affect anyone. The London School of Economics reports:

“Although many unsolicited phishing emails in circulation worldwide are known to originate from Nigeria, the volume of cybercrime emanating from the country is small compared to the number of cybercriminals from China, United States, and Turkey.”

London School of Economics, June 2021

Here are some of the most common online scams, along with tips for how to avoid falling victim to fraudsters located around the world.

1. Scam Emails

Almost every email address is subject to multiple daily scam attempts. Whether they claim you’re a beneficiary of millions of dollars, or that your bank account has been shut down suddenly, expect to receive multiple messages that should be disregarded without a second glance.

One method to avoid an abundance of scam emails would be to sign up for unimportant services with a secondary email address. You’ll also be able to keep tabs on whether anyone is selling your information. Don’t bother to respond to unsolicited messages, and send them to your junk folder. You can also check out a secure email service such as ProtonMail.

Also Read: Botswana Okays Regulation of Crypto/Digital Tokens Trading

2. Fake Account Cancellations

The more popular scam emails are fake account cancellations that aim to get you to log in with your real credentials. Scammers will then have access to your account, which can be used to scam others or be sold on. (If you reuse passwords, they could also log into other services.)

You might receive an SMS message, asking you to log in to a fake site, or you may get an email dotted with minor spelling mistakes. I’ve included an example from my own inbox below, for a bank that I don’t actually use.

In this case, the scammers are hoping I’d click on the Verify Now link, inputting my real account information in the process. If you are contacted by a bank or an online service via email, it’s best to log in directly and contact support to be sure.

Of course, any account can be stolen, from Netflix to dating profiles.

3. Online Dating

On that note, online dating can be an arduous experience without worrying about the many scammers that can be found on all platforms. Try to ensure that you’re not speaking to a bot, and never agree to send payments to somebody you haven’t met. It’s worth sticking with more established sites, apps, and dating formats.

4. Fake Websites

Cloned websites are more common than you might have guessed, even if they’re taken down eventually due to copyright infringement. In most cases, the scammers are hoping to get login information or will take payments for services they don’t offer. For example, they may have created a clone of a banking website, to steal info or get the user to download malware to their device.

5. Working From Home

It’s tempting to think that you can earn “hundreds of dollars per minute” working from home, but it’s unlikely unless you’re Elon Musk.

Be wary of any job offer that is too good to be true, especially if they ask for lots of personal information, or they want to use your bank account or address. Oftentimes, you’ll be sent a check that will eventually bounce, leaving you out of pocket.

It’s another variation of the fake check scam that has been around for decades. By law, “banks have to make deposited funds available quickly, usually within two days. When the funds are made available in your account, the bank may say the check has cleared, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good check.”

“Fake checks can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. By that time, the scammer has any money you sent, and you’re stuck paying the money back to the bank.”

Also Read: How To Best Maintain Your Computer

FTC, Fake Check Scams

Another method is to get the applicant to take out a loan, or pay for training for a role that doesn’t exist.

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