The world's premier anti internet scam, anti fraud information blog


Common Online Scams To Be Aware Of

common online scams

So much of today’s commerce, communication, and engagement is happening online. And everything about our everyday lives is easier and more convenient because of the digital marketplace. However, with all of that innovation comes a host of new risks and potential scams. From password and identity theft to bank fraud and viruses, a lot of fraud happens every day. Anyone browsing or buying online can be on the lookout for these common scams.


No, this isn’t about getting a line in the water hoping to catch dinner. Phishing, pronounced the same as the pastime, refers to the digital bait and switch scam used online. Here’s a stat that might shock you, too. According to recent reports, more than 80% of organizations fell prey to phishing attacks in 2021. And there’s more than one way that scammers use phishing techniques.

Email Phishing: These emails originate from a fake domain but appear legitimate. You’ll get an email from a popular brand name, with a slight variation distinguishing it from the actual brand entity. These might be from fake groups like Amazon, PayPal, or Apple and ask you to click a link to keep your “account from being suspended.”

Spear Phishing: These scammers already have some information about their victims. They send what appear to be personalized emails with warnings about missing payments or bank transfers. Links disguised as “take me to my account” shortcuts are malicious.

Whaling: Fake links and malicious URLs are the primary components of these phishing scams. Targeting executive professionals, these emails are disguised as “quick favors” from one executive for another. But there’s usually a bank transfer or data requirement.

Angler Phishing: Scams are happening on social media. These phishing scams use cloned websites and fake social media posts to target online users disguised as legitimate brands looking to collect data.

Shopping Scams

Another common online scam features form capturing. In these hacks, wrongdoers create replica websites of your favorite shopping platforms. There might be a coupon offer or special deal as an incentive. Ultimately, when the user completes the form or purchases, the scammer captures the data and sometimes payments before disappearing altogether.

Nigerian Scams

These scams have been around since the launch of the world wide web. They involve email sequences describing someone in distress, often from Nigeria or overseas. In return for your help with a banking transaction, the email says you will receive a hefty payment of usually thousands of dollars. Once an unsuspecting victim obliges, providing bank information or sending money, the sender disappears without ever providing that monetary reward.

Fake Antivirus Downloads

An increasingly more common online scam is the fake antivirus download. Pop-ups may appear, or personalized emails arrive in the inbox with staunch warnings about PC risks. Disguised as popular antivirus brands, these scammers will use aggressive tactics to get their targets to click bogus URLs or download malware unintentionally that harvests private data.

Account Problem Scams

Have you ever opened an email from one of your online accounts warning that your account is pending suspension? Or maybe you’ve received an email confirmation for a purchase you didn’t make. In either type of phishing, the scammer provides a link for you to click to clear things up or dispute a transaction. Beware of these emails, especially if the brand image or spelling doesn’t look accurate. Those links are illegitimate and only designed to get your information.

Fine Print Scams

Fine print scams are tough to spot. But they’ve increasingly become common online scams t, especially if you’re an avid online shopper. Fine print text boxes might appear, prompting you to check a box and agree to terms and conditions. It might look harmless, like prompts for allowing cookies. But the intentions are nefarious and usually result in crippling the user’s ability to leverage recourse or resolution. Checking the box might mean you’re agreeing to more than reasonable stipulations.

Tips for Avoiding These Common Online Scams

The more time you browse online, the more at-risk you are. Don’t fall victim to these common scams; follow these few tips to help you stay aware.

  • Only conduct business on secure online platforms.
  • Never click links sent to you directly if you suspect they’re illegitimate.
  • Never trust a brand-specific message that has you listed as a BCC recipient.
  • Don’t trust online or emailed deals that are too good to be true.
  • Remember that your online purchase doesn’t result in a subscription service and monthly charges you don’t want.
  • If you’re suspicious, try viewing the website in a new browser.
  • Contact your account profile directly to verify any suspicious communications.
  • Create and maintain strong, tough-to-guess passwords.
  • Don’t ever provide personal or banking information to anyone not verified.

It’s getting risky online these days, and online scams are only becoming sneakier and more frequent. Keep an eye out for these common online scams and take the steps necessary to protect yourself and your data. And as always, follow our scam blog for the latest trends and insights.