The virtual world can be a hazardous place in spite of all of the advantages that it also offers. With things like online shopping and banking being an important part in the everyday lives of many people, it is more important than ever to familiarize yourself with the latest and most common online scams. All Internet users should take some essential extra steps to ensure that their identity and financial details are protected online. Here are some of the most common scams to look out for online.
Advance Fee Fraud
Advance fee fraud is an old kind of scam but one which still remains very common on the Internet today. Fraudsters send out letters or, more often these days, emails, asking you to send money while promising a much larger amount in return. What they expect you to do is send them the money and then you’ll never hear from them again. Unsurprisingly, most such scams are extremely obvious. Most such fraudsters pose as people in positions of trust, such as barristers and missionaries. If you are receiving emails regarding the amassed fortunes of some deposed African dictator, better just to delete it!
Another common scam and one which almost everyone who has ever worked for the hospitality industry has experienced is the overpayment scam. If you work at a hotel or rent out a room or apartment, you will likely come across this on multiple occasions. With this scam, someone pretending to be interested in your services will make a reservation and send a cheque worth more money than is actually owed. They will then ask you to pay them back the difference, usually through a bank transfer. Meanwhile, the cheque (likely a forged one) bounces and you lose the whole lot.
Phishing scams are exclusive to the Internet and they are very common. These scams are intended to acquire personal and financial information for fraudulent reasons by posing as legitimate companies. You will occasionally, for example, come across such scams when you enter a Web address incorrectly for an online service that you use. In these cases, the scam site will pose as the genuine one in the hopes of duping you into providing your personal and financial details. You will also, on occasion, receive phishing scams in your email.
The above scams often come through junk email or, to a lesser extent, through the post. You may also come across them while browsing the Internet. Spam filters are quite sophisticated today and most people do not even have to deal with spam very often, since it never makes it into your inbox. The occasional glance through your spam folder will likely reveal quite a few of the above scams. Even if the spam, on occasion, makes it into your inbox, you should generally be able to tell quite clearly if it’s genuine or not.
Internet scams should not be that hard to avoid. Scammers succeed only because they attempt to scam many thousands of people at the same time and, often, there are several people who fall for it. Don’t fall into that minority! Instead, use the Internet vigilantly and keep in mind that, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. It should also go without saying that you should keep your antivirus software up-to-date at all times.