Over 63% of the world is online today. We shop online, work online, connect with friends online, watch entertainment online, play Ozwin Casino bonus codes games online and more.
As we spend so much time in cyberspace, it’s important to recognize online scams that trick people into sending money, handing over false information and more.
Online fraud refers to crime which takes place on the Internet. The days when the tricky door-to-door salesman would con you out of your money at your front door are gone – today that con artist sits at a computer anywhere in the world and contacts you and engages you virtually.
You never meet the scammer who walks away with your passwords, information about your bank account, your contacts and other data that allows him to enjoy the fruits of your labors. But he’s engaged in the time-honored trade of thieves, stealing without ever laying eyes on you.
The Internet can be a safe space for those who remain vigilant. Learn more about today’s most common online scams and how you can avoid being sucked into them.
Phishing is, today, the main form of online fraud. Hackers use phishing tools to deceive people into downloading harmful software or into handing over sensitive information. Most Internet users are aware, on some level, of phishing but because there are new hacking schemes coming out all the time, it’s hard for people to identify a phishing email or deal with it properly.
A phishing email is disguised as a message sent from a legitimate source. It may look like it comes from a bank, a government agency, a utility company, etc. It pressures the recipient to take immediate action – “click here to verify your account;” “update your account details here;” etc. These emails often contain the images like logos that make it look like they are legitimate.
Once you “bite” and click on the link that the email helpfully provides you’ll be taken to a website that looks like the agency/utility/government office’s official website but is, in reality, the hacker’s link. Once you input your information, the hacker has it and can use it.
There are different kinds of phishing including “spear phishing” where the hacker, having done some research, aims specifically at you (an email purporting to be from an organization with which you are involved, from your employer, from someone that you know).
clone phishing where the hacker enters correspondence between 2 people and takes over the identity of one of them (hi Susie, I’m on vacation in the Bahamas and my money was stolen….can you send me some money?), “vishing” which is phishing via a phone call and “smishing” which involves phishing via SMS message.
To stay safe from phishing emails:
- Look for generic emails (Dear Sir or Dear Madam) which give no indication that the sender knows who you are.
- Check the website that the email directs you to – if it’s not the official site of the bank/agency/office (which you can check online), don’t click further. If you have an account or profile at the company or organization, you can open your profile on the official website and check to see if you have any messages waiting for you. If the email is legitimate, the message will have been copied in your profile’s inbox.
Online dating scams usually end up with the “date” suggesting that s/he would get to you ASAP if only s/he had the money to get to you! Romance scams happen more on social media than through emailing but it’s still a scam.
In a romance scam, the hacker pretends to be someone that s/he is not, creates an attractive profile, provides photos that are fake and then, inevitably, will need money (passport problem, medical emergency, legal troubles, etc). As soon as someone asks you for money, delete the person from your list of friends.
Most fundraising today takes place online so people aren’t as wary as they should be when they receive a fundraising email. Problem is, the fund-raiser is a complete scam and any money that you send will go straight to the scammer’s own “fund.”
The Advance scam is an old one but, according to law enforcement authorities, new victims are caught every year. In this phishing scam, the recipient gets a letter that states that the writer is wealthy (and sometimes from royalty).
The person has millions of dollars, pounds or Euros and can’t access them directly so they suggest that, for a deposit that will allow them to make the transfer, they will transfer the money into your account. Needless to say that any deposit that you send will be long gone along with any of the funds that were supposed to be sent to you.
In general, there are some basic steps that you can take to protect your online presence.
- Install the best anti-spam and anti-phishing software on your devices.
- Make sure that payments for any online shopping that you do are facilitated through a secure source (there should be a padlock symbol in the URL bar to indicate that the site is secure).
- Don’t send any money to anyone without researching it first.
- Keep your social media settings on the highest security setting.
- Be skeptical of any deal or offer.
- Use unique passwords for all of your accounts. Every password should be a strong one with numbers, small letters, capital letters and symbols. Store your passwords in a protected password program.
- Keep your mobile phone updated with the latest security updates.
- Secure your main accounts with multi-factor authentication so that log-ins can only be affected by two separate forms of identification.
- Don’t share personal information publically online.