You must have heard about internet scams or could have even fallen victim once before. You’re not alone. Losses from online frauds are 19 times more than offline scams. The trend is growing and means we must be careful about how we use the internet.
Let’s explore ten notorious internet scams you might encounter and how to avoid them.
1. Advance-Fee Fraud
The advance-fee fraud is the commonest of internet scams. As the name implies, this scheme works by requesting for advance payment.
The scammer will send you some products and services they “sell/offer”, usually at an unbeatable price. Then they demand payment of a small advanced fee, say ten percent. To legitimize the scam, they claim that this money is for processing your order.
The moment you pay the fee, they bounce onto the next victim!
To avoid being a victim, you must never deal with a stranger online without some form of insurance. The best type of insurance, in this case, is an Escrow service.
That way, the stranger only gets your money if he fulfills his end of the bargain. Escrow is also dirt-cheap by the way.
2. The Impersonation Scam
In this form of internet scam, the scammer poses as a longtime acquaintance/family and requests to get to you. They contact you on social media or telephone with an air of familiarity. Then next comes the barrage of excuses why they are stuck in a remote location and can’t get out.
One of the favorite reasons they give is that they got mugged. Another is that they lost some essential possession and needed urgent help.
Then, they go on to ask for some form of financial aid from you. The moment you grant it, these fraudsters got you.
Always scrutinize “familiar” contacts before granting any requests.
A person impersonating your high school buddy should know what your buddy knows, such as where you both hung out and played football. If they don’t, end the communication.
3. Charity and Relief Internet Scams
Scammers have no honor, so don’t expect them to play by the same ethical mores as you. The relief and charity scam is one of the most effective scams in recent times.
The format is simple; the scammer pulls up a sad photo of a child, people, etc. in a terrible situation. They then spend a bit of time exaggerating their story about these people. After the story, they proceed to ask that you donate some money to this cause.
The reason why this internet scam is efficient is that it plays on your emotions
To stay away from this fraud, always ensure you verify the source of the charity. If possible, request to see some form of documentation before you donate. Most times, a little research online is all that you need to expose these fraudsters.
4. Extortion and Blackmail Scams
This form of online scam involves the scammer threatening you with some leverage. This leverage may be real or imagined.
Fraudsters can use private sexual media content of their victim to blackmail them. These criminals may threaten to upload the content online if the victim fails to comply. To comply usually means paying outrageous sums of money.
The terrible nature of this scam is that it is the long-term. It could go on for as long as the fraudster desires, and payment often does not solve the problem.
To avoid getting into this form of trouble, always lock your private devices. Never share sensitive content with untrustworthy people.
Talk to a qualified reputation management attorney. You may report to your local authorities immediately if someone tries this stunt on you.
5. Phishing Internet Scams
This type of scam involves some level of intelligence. The scammer sends you an email containing some vital information. They design the email to resemble a legitimate email from big brands.
The content of the email will request that you do some form of verification. There is always some form of urgency attached to the email. The scammers put a link for you to conduct your verification in the email. That verification link leads to web application designed to steal your private information.
To avoid being a victim, always inspect the sender email with carefulness. The email may be a good copy but can never match the exact address of the original brand they are impersonating. Also, if you are unsure of your next step at any point, contact the company support immediately.
6. Lawsuit and Legal Fee Scam
This form of scam works because it preys on emotions.
The scammer often calls their victim impersonating police officers. They could also impersonate some law enforcement agency. They claim that the victim has an outstanding legal battle or fines.
They proceed by demanding immediate payments, and threaten the victim with immediate legal action if they fail to comply by paying the fines.
If you ever get this sort of call, don’t panic. Place another call to the organization your “caller” claims to be a member of and request for clarification. This call is usually enough to verify the authenticity of such calls.
7. The Email Attachment Scam
The email attachment scam is another intelligent form of fraud. It works on the curiosity of the victims.
The scammer sends an email to their victim with an attachment. The curious victim proceeds to open the email and view the attachment.
This action installs malware or spyware on the victim’s PC. This malware steals their private information for the scammer.
Never open an email attachment if you don’t recognize the sender.
8. Hijacked Profile Scam
This type of scam is popular with the social media.
The hacker finds a way to access your profile. They do this by stealing your information through suspicious links you visited, then proceed to demand some form of compensation before they release your account to you.
If you ever fall for this sort of scam, contact the support team of the social media account. They will restore your ownership and may even be able to identify the perpetrator.
Always use your social media accounts with carefulness. Also, avoid clicking or following suspicious links.
9. Online Quiz and Games Scam
This form of internet scam is pretty basic. The hacker sends you a message containing a link to a quiz or game. This game/quiz could be harmless in itself.
The problem starts when they demand some verification before they let you play. Sometimes the website may request that you input sensitive details during registration too.
Stay away from any quiz or game that requires credit or phone information. The game/quiz may be harmless or not. Best not to find out!
10. Survey Scam
The internet scams involving surveys work like the email attachment scam.
The victim receives a link asking that they take part in a survey. Some of these polls promise some form of reward upon completion. As soon as the victim clicks the link, a dangerous malware installs on their PC.
This malware steals and sends their information to the scammer.
Always avoid visiting suspicious websites. Also, never open links sent to you from strangers.
Wrapping This up
The internet is like every other city. Your safety depends on where you go and how you use it. Next time you boot your PC for some online time, keep watch. You might be the next target for internet scams. Always listen to your intuition. And most of all, rein-in your greed at all times.