Have you been a victim of Internet fraud? If not, then you probably know at least one person who had their identity stolen or fell for a work-from-home scam. The online world is immense and there are many creative characters out there devising some new way to make a buck or a euro.
Unsure what is out there? Here are seven most common types of Internet frauds to watch out for:
1. Identity Theft
Identity theft, the process of taking your personally identifiable information and assume your identity for financial reasons, is the most common online crime to date. Typically, the primary method of stealing your identity is using malware to infiltrate your computer.
But there are other ways to achieve this, including in the offline world. Believe it or not, unscrupulous individuals are still dumpster diving. They go to your trash can or blue bin and retrieve any identifiable information about you and your household. What happened to the days when someone would hold a stick up and take your wallet?
Always be careful about giving anyone your personal information. Unless it is an established company, like Amazon or Walmart, be sure that you are being extra diligent about handling your personal data. You may not think your identity is valuable, but it is to a criminal in Burkina Faso.
2. Work-from-Home Scams
Thanks to technological advancements and global markets, working from home is more prevalent than ever before. Whether it is being hired by a foreign business or supplementing your income with freelance work, there are many ways to earn a steady income from the comfort of your home.
Unfortunately, because so many people desire to work on the sofa in their pajamas, scam artists take advantage and proceed to post fake job ads online. Ultimately, they request money in exchange for access to a wealth of opportunities, mostly data entry.
If they say you can earn $5,000 a month to simply earn data, then click away to avoid these types of Internet frauds.
3. Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is not only costing consumers billions of dollars every year, but it is also impacting the reputation of companies that were the source of these frauds.
In recent years, many iconic brands had their point-of-sale (POS) systems hacked or their databases breached by bad actors. This resulted in millions of accounts being compromised, meaning criminals had unauthorized access to a lot of personal data.
To avoid these types of Internet frauds, always check the HTTPS of a website you visit. This stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is another layer of security. So, before browsing a website, check the URL and ensure that there is an HTTPS preceding the address.
4. Online Dating Schemes
Let’s be honest: there are many lonely souls out there that just waiting for somebody to touch them. The data suggest that more people are living alone than ever before and this could be the new norm.
Since some people are desperate for love, they may set aside their good judgment and fall for these types of Internet frauds. A lot of criminals are counting on this, hence why they exploit online dating websites and use it to their advantage.
You have probably read stories of numerous victims who gave some stranger thousands of dollars because they thought he or she was the love of their life. It turned out that these were just some people in West Africa, Eastern Europe, and other hotbeds of crime pretending to be somebody else.
Phishing is when hackers send you an email from a company – Amazon or Apple – informing you that your account has been hacked or you are entitled to a refund or a discount. All you need to do, the email says, is to click on this link and key in your information. This is extremely common among business organizations, especially since phishing has gotten more sophisticated. A business must be diligent with their IT support to prevent phishing from their network.
Credit should be given to cybercriminals for improving their phishing scams. Not only are the emails beginning to look genuine, their messages are also doing quite the good job of appearing to be authentic. But there are many things that still make it look obvious, such as font, a misspelling, or the link that you are required to click on takes you to somewhere else that is not the company website.
Over the years, there has been a lot of reportage over 419 scams. These are email scams originating from Nigeria where residents converge onto cyber cafes and say they are princes who are trying to flee their country, but only you can save them and their money by transferring $250 to their bank account.
There is an old saying, “If it is too good to be true, then it probably is.” It is a piece of wisdom that everyone should abide by. If you are being offered $10 million in exchange for $250, then think twice.
It is hilarious. Although 99 percent of people do not fall for them, there is still the one percent who do. Moreover, 419 emails are only growing and expanding to other nations and taking different approaches. For instance, some CEO of a manufacturing company in China wants to establish a business partnership, but you need to first send over a sum of money to show that you are responsible.
7. Bogus Blackmail
These types of Internet frauds are relatively new and they do seem real at first. You receive an email that contains one of your passwords to one of your accounts. It informs you that he or she has hacked into your computer and obtained webcam footage of you viewing erotic content. If you don’t send over [insert dollar amount here] in bitcoin, then these videos will be sent to all your contacts.
Whatever you do, don’t fall for it. Ever!
Billions of dollars are lost every year because of Internet frauds, from identity theft to credit card scams. Although the private sector is doing an incredible job reining in these fraudsters, a lot more work needs to be done. Will the problem be eradicated anytime soon? Unlikely, so be extra cautious.