Cybercrime is an unfortunate part of our digital lives. Just as there are thieves in the real world, cyber criminals have used the Internet to prey on victims, stealing their credit card information, bank details, and other personal data.
Protect yourself by brushing up on the 7 most common Internet scams, which we’ve outlined below.
- Lottery Scam
In the classic foreign lottery scam, you receive an official-looking email congratulating you for winning a foreign lottery.
How do you know it’s a scam?
- For starters, you can run a Google search to see if the “lottery” exists.
- Another red flag is if the sender is a person and not the lottery corporation’s official account.
- If your name is not in the “To” field, the message is most likely a phishing email hoping to snag a few gullible victims.
- Survey Scams
Survey scams are designed to entice you to participate in what looks to be a legitimate questionnaire for some cause, often related to the environment, politics, or social issues. But unless you’ve specifically signed up to be part of a survey mailing list, treat these emails as nothing but spam.
Oftentimes, such messages contain spyware or malware that installs itself on your computer, allowing cyber criminals to log keystrokes, collect passwords, and steal credit card information.
- PayPal and other Credit Card/Online Banking Scams
These scams are especially irritating because of how legitimate they can look. Users get an email from PayPal or their bank/credit card company, warning them of how their account was “breached” and requesting an immediate login and password change to prevent further access.
This causes users to panic and click on the email link to login to their account. However, the link doesn’t actually redirect users to the PayPal or bank’s website, but a false identical site. By logging in, you’ve just given away your email address/username and password to a cyber criminal.
- Mystery Shopper Scams
Designed to steal your credit card or PayPal information and other personal data, the mystery shopper scam lures in email users with a message promising a large sum of money in exchange for working as a mystery or secret shopper. The catch is that the “company” often requests money to be sent upfront to cover the costs of your training materials. Those gullible enough send money and wait for a package that will never arrive.
Just remember, if you never applied for a job, why would you be offered one out of nowhere?
- The Nigerian Scam
In this scam, users receive an email from someone with a fancy-sounding name like “Sir Ferdinand DuPont” or “Lord Arthur K. Smith,” requesting that you send a “small” amount of money to help him recover a large fortune from an overseas bank. In exchange, you’ll be sent a cut of the money, to be sent to your bank account. In the end, victims only send money not knowing they won’t get anything in return.
- Hacked Social Media Account Scam
Cyber criminals have been known to hack into social media accounts and message people on the friends or followers list of their victims to request for money or join in on a “business opportunity,” which they use to obtain their personal information.
Always be careful when receiving requests for money from your social media friends. Always verify such requests by contacting them through other channels to ensure their account wasn’t hacked.
- Online Quiz Scam
Online quizzes are a fun way to pass the time, but some of them have been known to cost people money without them knowing it. It starts with:
- Users seeing quiz results on their friends’ social network feeds
- Taking the same quiz
- The quiz asks them to key in their phone number, which they do without reading the fine print.
What they don’t know is that some quizzes can add fees to their cell phone bills.
Have you fallen for any of these scams? Let us know how you dealt with it in the comments section below.