There are so many different types of online scams, it becomes a bit incredible how creative cyber criminals are at fooling their victims. I’d like to imagine that after decades of internet usage, most of us have become rather adept at spotting online scams, and yet 1 in 10 adults will fall victim to some kind of online scam.
In any case, we’re going to highlight some of the most common and successful internet scams used by online criminals, so you can better recognize and be prepared for them. Knowledge is not only key for avoiding becoming a victim, but you can also consider additional security like signing up for fraud protection services.
Email phishing remains by far the most widespread type of scam online, as cyber criminals have evolved to put together very sophisticated, authentic-looking emails and websites. There are many different types of phishing scams, but the most commonly used are emails posing as government agencies or financial institutions, requesting details about your account.
Some cyber criminals have even figured out ways to confuse the SSL authentication in browsers, such as by using cheap SSL certificates and injecting scripts into the website that will pass the browser’s “authenticity” inspection. It’s worth remembering that HTTPS may mean a site is “secure”, but it doesn’t guarantee the site isn’t a scam.
In any case, it’s best to personally call the institution that is supposedly emailing you, to confirm any requests for information or account problems.
Email attachments ie greeting cards, money claims, etc
E-card greetings are commonly sent around major holidays, but so are fake e-cards with malware attached. A good rule of thumb is that e-cards are typically in .GIF or other image format, and should just play automatically in your email viewer. If the e-card requests to be downloaded before viewing, you can probably do without reading it.
What will typically happen is that it will be something like Merry-Christmas.doc, like a Word Document file, then when you open it, the file requests that you enable some extra permissions to view the document. By enabling those permissions, the document can then execute whatever malicious activity it was programmed to do, such as installing a backdoor into your computer.
Pre-approved loan scams
Bad credit? No credit? No problem! You’ve been automatically approved for an absurd amount of money by our top-rated lending company you’ve never heard of before. In some cases these are authentic, yet extremely predatory loan programs with all kinds of hidden fees, but much of the time they’re also totally fake and will just steal your personal information.
To avoid this type of scam, just adopt the legitimate belief that nobody on the internet wants to give you unsolicited money.
Online dating scams
Being ghosted on Tinder can totally suck, especially if you actually met up with the person a few times and felt a bond, but you can count your lucky stars you weren’t catfished. Catfishing is when the totally hot Instagram model who loves you and wants to be with you, if only you’ll send them cash to buy a plane ticket, is actually not any of those things.
It’s kind of easy to avoid this type of dating site fraud. If you’ve never met the person but are sending them money, you’re being catfished. If you’ve actually met the person and are sending them money, you’re a sugar daddy / sugar mama.
Fake antivirus and computer booster software
This type of internet fraud goes back at least a couple decades, and really hasn’t evolved much. Basically, website pop-ups may inform you that your computer is infected with malware, and you need to download special tools to remove it – of course, the “special tool” you download is the real malware. It will also of course ask you to purchase the full version of the software, so as to steal your payment information.
This also goes for software that claims to significantly boost the performance of your computer. While legitimate products do exist for doing a bit of Spring cleaning on your desktop, performance gains are nearly always negligible.
Hijacked social media accounts
A modern twist on the old email chain-letter virus, you may receive download links or attachments from friends on social media, and the attachments are actually viruses. The friend’s account that sent you the attachment was either similarly compromised, or is a cloned account.
In any case, be suspicious if that guy from highschool 15 years ago is suddenly sending you Merry-Christmas.doc attachments.
Post Views: 147