Introduction: 7 Online Internet Scams and How to Avoid Them
Scams of one sort or another are as old as time, but with the internet making it so easy for criminals to find new ways to part us from our money, it pays to be vigilant at all times. So what are the eight most common internet scams - and how can you protect yourself and your loved ones from being stung?
There are lots of online scams, but these are the main ones:
- Online shopping scams – Online shopping websites are full of scammers. Criminals redirect shoppers to spoof websites, hack into legitimate sales platforms, or sell bogus products. The list is endless.
- Dating scams – the media regularly features stores of vulnerable people who are befriended by online suitors. It is all a giant love-fest until the object of their desire falls victim to an implausible series of unfortunate events and starts asking for money to sort things out.
- Online surveys - If a company asks for a registration payment or doesn’t pay out after you have fulfilled your end of the bargain, it’s a scam. If you want to do surveys for cash, use a legitimate and verified panel instead.
- Advance fee scams – If you have been contacted by a company that says they can secure a hefty compensation payment for PPI or similar, but wants an up-front fee before they do any work, it’s a scam.
- Ticket scams – Ever purchased tickets for a concert or sporting fixture online, and then wondered why the tickets never arrived? If so, you are not alone.
- Online banking scams – Hackers are becoming increasingly skilled at using debit and credit account information gleaned from a variety of different sources to fraudulently purchase goods and services online.
- Account hacking scams – There have been cases where a hacker has gained access to a social media account and sent messages to the account holder’s friends, claiming to be in trouble and in desperate need of cash. The money then goes straight to the scammer and is never seen again.
Protect Your Computer
- Don’t use the same password for everything and don’t share them with anyone! Simple passwords using easy to guess dates and names make a scammer’s life so much easier. And if you use the same password for all of your online accounts, they have hit the jackpot.
- Install antivirus software and make sure you use it. Antivirus protects you from harmful viruses transmitted by email attachments and software downloads. It can be installed on any internet enabled device, including smartphones.
- Activate your computer’s firewall. This will stop scammers from gaining access to your computer.
- Don’t open suspicious attachments.
Protect Your Bank Account
- Don’t enter your account details into any website that doesn’t look authentic – and if you already have, report it to your bank immediately.
- Keep a close eye on your transactions and the moment you notice anything suspicious report it to your bank.
- Never give out your account details to someone who calls up purporting to be from your bank or other financial institution.
If you are the victim of any type of online scam, make sure you report it to the police; no matter how embarrassed you might feel. The more evidence they have, the more easily the perpetrator can be brought to justice.