Last Updated on April 27, 2019Home » Blog » Personal Safety and Security » Fraud and Scams »
Do you trust what you see on the internet? Do you believe that every email you receive is genuine? Most people will probably answer to both of those questions. Yet, Americans lost $143 Million to online romance scams alone last year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From malicious software that gathers information from your computer, to clever scams that slowly lure you in, online scams are always evolving. The only constant in all this is that the scammers are after your money. No matter how internet literate you may think you are, anyone can get caught out by an online scam. So, read this list of top online scams. Because, the more aware you are, the less likely it is that you will fall for an online scam.
1. Lottery Winnings Scam
This scam plays on everyone’s dream of winning a large amount of money. We get so excited about the thought of quitting our jobs and buying a mansion, that we throw caution to the wind. This online scam is usually an email scam. You will receive an email telling you that you have won a lottery. Or, it might be a free luxury vacation. The email will look official and convincing. It will tell you that you will need to pay a small administration fee to claim your prize. Of course, there is no prize. If you pay the fee, you will never hear from the scammer again.
2. Phishing Email Scams
Phishing emails can be very sophisticated. They are designed to trick you into divulging confidential information. It’s usually your bank details that the scammers are after, but it might be passwords or PIN numbers as well. The emails will look very official. They often appear to have been sent by banks or government agencies. They will also usually use scare tactics to make you provide the information. The scammers may say things like your bank account is at risk, so you must confirm your details straight away.
3. Pre-approved Bank Loan Scam
This is another online scam that is trying to get you to pay a small “admin fee”. The scammers will send you an email telling you that have been pre-approved for a loan. The loan will probably include very attractive, low rates of interest. This scam is often targeted at small business as well as individuals. To gain access to the money from the loan, you will be asked to pay an admin fee. You may also be asked to provide personal financial information. Like most online scams, the offer will seem too good to be true. And, it is.
4. Fake Virus Scams
If you go online often, you will have probably come across this online scam. In this one, you get an urgent message displayed on your screen. The message will tell you your computer is infected with a virus. The message will urge you to download software now to prevent your data being corrupted. The software the scammer is trying to get you to download is likely to be malicious. It may be a keypad scanner, which will record the passwords and other confidential information that you type in. It could be a ransomware, which will lock your system until you pay some money. The software may be adware, which will display hundreds of unwanted advertisements on your screen whenever you go online. The answer to this scam is simple. Never download any files unless you are 100% sure they are from a legitimate source.
5. Extortion Scam
This is particularly nasty email scam that can be very frightening. The scammer will send you an email saying that they will kidnap a family member unless you pay up straight away. Another variation of this scam is that they will tell you know about something you have done. They will threaten to make that information public if you don’t pay them money. These emails can look very convincing. The scammer will have lots of personal information about you from social media to make the threat look convincing. This is one very good reason why shouldn’t share too much about yourself on the internet.
6. Get Rich Quick Schemes
Get rich quick online scams come in many disguises. They will offer ways of making money fast, for a small investment. They will often include convincing sounding success stories. Along with photos of people with expensive cars, luxury yachts and Rolex watches. The scheme might be a working at home job, or it might be an investment opportunity. The scammer is either after your personal information, or they will want you to pay some money up front. This is another scam where the too good to be true rule should be applied. If you could make large sums of money by doing nothing at all, everyone would be doing it.
7. Fake Online Stores
The amount of shopping that we do online is increasing every year. Amazon alone sold $141.92 billion of products in 2018. As online sales increase, the online shopping scams increase with them. It’s very easy to set up a website today. With a small amount of technical knowledge, you can set up a very convincing online fake store. So, watch out for sites that seem to be selling high-quality goods at heavily discounted prices. These fake stores are often selling fake designer gear. If you buy from a fake store, you will get fake, low-quality products, if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, you will get no products at all and your credit card details will be used to steal more of your money.
8. Romance Scams
Romance scams are becoming a big problem. The criminals dupe people into believing they have found the love of their life. The techniques used to gain the victim’s confidence are like those used for grooming. Once the scammer has you under their spell, they will ask you for money. They may say that the money for medical expenses. They may say the money is to pay for airfares, so that they can come and meet you. Romance scams are usually initiated on online dating sites, on social media, or by email. Lots of people do find love online. But be careful about who you trust.
9. Nigerian Money Transfer Scam
The Nigerian money transfer scam is an old online scam. The scam involves an apparently wealthy person asking you for help retrieving large sum of money from a bank account. They will say that they can’t get the money themselves because of a coup or political problems in their country. The scammer will offer you a percentage of the money for helping them, which will amount to a very large sum. This scam can go on for a long time. First, they will ask you for a small amount of money to pay fees and paperwork. If you pay that, they will then come up with reasons why you need to pay more money. You won’t ever receive any money from them. Plus, you may divulge the details of your bank account which the scammer will use to steal money from you.
10. Greeting Card Scams
Christmas, Easter, or any other time of year that people send out greeting cards. These are the times of year that scammers will use the greeting card scam. They know that people are likely to open greeting cards without really thinking about it. But, when you open one of these greeting card emails, it will download malicious software. That software may launch a load of advertising pop ups. Or, it may be software that is looking for your private data. The best way to avoid all these types of email scams is not to open any emails from unknown sources.
These are only ten of the most common online scams. There are lots of other scams around, and lots of variations on these. Be on the lookout for anything suspicious when you are online. Remember that offers that look too good to be true are usually exactly that. And, be very careful about who you divulge personal information to.
We hope that you found this post about online scams helpful. If you did, please do share it with your friends on your social media accounts. We will be posting more about scams and how to avoid them soon. If you’d like to be kept up to date with what’s new on Best Panic Alarm, please subscribe to our mailing list. You may also be interested in our post about telephone scams to watch out for. Once again, thanks for visiting Best Panic Alarm. We appreciate it. Have a great, and a very safe, day.