As long as human civilization survives, scammers will never cease to exist. There will never be a shortage of individuals who thrive on exploiting fears and weaknesses, and the sheer prevalence of online scams has made this point abundantly clear. Gone are the days of scammers going to door to door and dreaming up elaborate sales pitches. In the digital age, these unscrupulous individuals can make contact with countless marks with a few simple button clicks. Because of their massive numbers, it’s all but impossible for law enforcement to stamp out the threat of online scammers. That being the case, the onus falls on internet users to exercise common sense and stay current with popular scams.
- Phishing and Smishing
One of the oldest online scams, phishing has been around for well over a decade. Unfortunately, its effectiveness has not faded with time. The exact details of each phishing scheme vary, but this time-tested scam typically entails a mark receiving an email from a company they often do business with. Examples include Amazon and eBay, as well as various banks and credit card companies. In a variant of this scheme known as “smishing,” targets receive these messages via text. These emails claim that a problem requiring immediate attention has been found with the mark’s account. Upon clicking a link, marks will be taken to legitimate-looking fraudulent sites and asked to provide their username and password for the account in question. Once this information has been shared, the scammer will have unfettered access to the account.
- Mugged on Vacation
Some scams seek to take advantage of people’s desire to look out for loved ones. The mugged on vacation scam involves someone breaking into a person’s phone or computer and sending a mass email, social media message or text to all of their contacts. The precise details of the message tend to vary, but it often involves being mugged while on vacation and having no cash or credit cards on hand. As a result, the affected party needs money to pay their hotel bill and purchase a return ticket home. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to confirm the authenticity of such claims. For starters, you can ask the sender a question only the real friend or family member would know. Alternatively, you can simply place a call to the individual in question.
- Malicious Software (Malware)
Malicious software can find its way onto your computer through a number of avenues, including email links, program installations and download files. It’s also commonly spread through unsecured websites, facilitating the need for safety-conscious site owners to invest in cutting-edge security solutions. Anyone in the market for cloud-based solutions should consult some informative SiteLock reviews. Since information theft is the goal of most malware developers, keystroke logging, altered security settings and restricted internet access occur on many devices infected with malicious software. Unfortunately, once malware sinks its claws into your devices, it can be difficult to purge. Taking affected devices to experienced tech support professionals and formatting your hard drive are the two most common methods of malware removal.
- Fake Girlfriend or Boyfriend
Scammers have long preyed upon people’s desire for companionship, and the internet has provided them with the perfect vehicle for perpetrating this type of scam. This particular flimflam entails marks receiving emails from attractive-looking singles who claim to have fallen in love after stumbling upon their social media profiles. These messages are usually accompanied by links to fraudulent Facebook profiles that are rife with stolen photos. The ultimate goal, of course, is to win the trust of the mark and eventually ask them for money while refusing to meet them in person or engage in video chats. In extreme cases, victims have depleted their life savings for the sake of their fake partners.
The worldwide web is a flimflammer’s paradise. Not only are there countless marks, making contact with them has become easier than ever. Although many popular online scams sound ridiculously absurd, a staggering number of internet users fall prey to them every year. Additionally, people who believed they would never be fooled by scammers constitute a sizable percentage of victims. With that in mind, it’s imperative for internet users to always be on their guard, particularly when dealing with suspicious emails, links and websites.