Online scams come in many different and seemingly innocuous forms, and it is important for your personal and financial safety to know how to spot these before falling prey to them. Below are a collection of the main online scams that you need to be aware of and keep a look out for so that you do not fall victim to cyber criminals.
Major Online Scams
Phishing Email Scams
These scams are all about your login details, and they are usually sent via emails and on social media platforms. Criminals trick you into divulging your username and password, so that they can access your finances and accounts. Look out for suspicious emails from your (supposed) bank, work or school email, social network, and cloud storage. These emails will come from a seemingly official source (such as these institutions noted above) and will give a link where it will prompt you to enter your login details. Due to the rise of phishing email scams, many companies have made it protocol to inform their clients that they will never ask you to fill in your credentials through an email.
A Guaranteed Bank Loan or Credit Card Scam
You will receive an email or an SMS stating that you have been pre-approved and qualify for a large loan amount, and when you reply you will be asked to pay “mandatory” processing fees. This is where your common sense works for you – a bank would never pre-approve you for a loan if it does not have your financial history such as your credit records.
Fake Antivirus Software
These scams usually resemble actual pop-ups from a legitimate online security product such as Windows. It will come in the form of a message on your computer screen stating that your computer has been infected and that you need to download antivirus Y immediately. When you do this however, you will be downloading a virus which can give you one of two scenarios. First, you downloaded annoying software that causes pop-ups on your computer screen while you are browsing. This is harmless and scanning your system with a good anti-virus product like Norton should clear the virus. In Scenario two you would have downloaded malware that can pose a serious risk to your PC and the information on it. To prevent a situation like this, you will need to use a specialized security product such as Bitdefender.
Make Money Fast Scams
This scam promises to “turn your computer into a money-making machine”. Scammers promise simple methods to help you generate an income, promise to send you extra links and official sources, and sometimes even promise a money-back guarantee. They ask for a fee, and once you pay this start-up cost you are left with dead-ends, no telephone number to get extra help, and phony, broken links.
There are many other online scams to look out for, such as Facebook impersonation, travel, stock market, job offers, and SMS scams. The important thing to do is to beef up the security on all your accounts – social, bank, and email accounts, and never divulge personal information nor login credentials.
What To Do If You Have Been Scammed
Let the company involved in the hacking incident know. Alert your school, workplace, Facebook, or wherever the hacking took place and change your login details. If your finances and other more serious information have been compromised, call your bank and credit card company and file a police report. File a Fraud Victim Statement with the 3 major credit bureaus Experien, TransUnion and Equifax. Let a professional update your anti-malware software on your computer and get them to scan your computer as well. Lastly, prevention is better than cure – if it seems too good or strange to be true, it usually is.