The internet is a breeding ground for scammers, fraudsters, and con artists. In 2018 alone, over $1 billion was taken from unsuspecting individuals online and put into the pockets of scammers, according to the Federal Trade Commission. This is a huge industry that continues to grow with newer, more advanced scams each year.
As someone who uses the internet in their everyday life, how can you avoid becoming the victim of an internet scam? The first step is to be aware of the scams out there so that you’re prepared when they target you. Here are some of the top internet scams and how to avoid falling for them:
Phishing is one of the most common email scams out there, and it’s easy to get tricked by it if you’re not careful. Here’s how it works: the hacker will set up a phony email account that displays them as a representative of a trusted institution, such as your bank or insurance company. They’ll reach out to you with a message that requires action on your end. The message will say something like “You’re bank account has been frozen.” It will then prompt you to click through to a page where you’ll enter confidential information, such as your online banking username and password.
Never click on links in emails from suspicious senders, and never provide them with confidential information, even if they propose to work for your bank or insurance company. If you get an email like this, contact your institution through the proper channels and find out whether the source of the email is legitimate or fraudulent.
Loan pre-approval scams
This type of scam preys upon those in need of financial help but provides just the opposite. If you’ve recently been trying to take out a loan for a car or a home, scammers may target you specifically. They usually start by sending an email notifying you that you’ve been approved for a loan from their institution. The terms of the loan will be favorable, promising low-interest rates and a hassle-free application process.
In exchange, they’ll require you to pay a “sign-up fee.” Keep in mind that a financial institution would never approve you for a loan without knowing your financial history first. Don’t click on any links in the email, and definitely don’t provide them with any payment credentials. Instead, delete the email and block the sender.
Internet job scams
Are you searching for jobs on websites like Craigslist and Indeed? If so, beware of scammers posing as potential employers. Let’s say you come across a job opportunity with great pay that allows you to work from home. You apply for the job and are accepted immediately. Great news, right?
Don’t be too sure. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Pay close attention, and you’ll notice many indicators that the job you’re applying for is a scam. For example, if the source never interviewed you, that’s a good sign that the opportunity is fake. Also, if you search for the company on Google and nothing shows up, then the source is probably fake as well.
The scammer will usually ask for your banking information so that they can “deposit payments into your bank account.” In reality, once they have that information, they’ll use it to steal from you. Alternatively, they might try to get you to send them money in the form of a check or money order. They’ll convey that the money is going toward your “training” or “necessary software to do your job.” If you get offered a job online and the source is asking for money, don’t proceed any further. Instead, report that source to the authorities.
To learn more about protecting yourself from internet scams, visit us a Total Defense today!