Top 8 Online Scams to Watch Out For
Scams have been around for centuries, but the internet has given criminals easier access to people and their information in a way never seen before. While the internet does make life better, you need to be cautious of malicious actors looking to steal your most sensitive personal data. It also helps to have your identity protected by an identity theft protection service. This way you’re alerted when someone attempts to use your identity for credit card or bank loan fraud and can take action before damage is done.
Here are eight online scams to avoid, and how you can recognize them before it’s too late:
1. Phishing Email Scams
Phishing emails are emails that look like they’re from a credible business, such as PayPal, your bank or another account you feel comfortable sharing sensitive financial information with. In truth, it’s actually a sham. Someone is looking to get your username and password to the account so they can gain access to it and steal your identity and money.
2. Phishing Text Message Scams
Text message phishing, or “smishing,” has become a common way for criminals to get information from people on their mobile devices. They’re a lot like phishing emails, as they work by getting people to give up their information. A phishing text could look like your bank asking you to verify your PIN, or a URL to a page where you enter your information to claim a $100,000 prize.
3. Fake Software Updates
You can get computer or smartphone viruses by downloading and installing software that looks legitimate. Fake antivirus software updates can look particularly trustworthy, but end up allowing malicious users to access your computer and get personal information.
4. Free Wi-Fi Scams
It seems like a score when you find free Wi-Fi that allows you to reduce data usage on your phone. Free Wi-Fi scams are Wi-Fi networks typically labeled “Free Public Wi-Fi” or something along those lines. However, these networks are bait used by hackers, who gain access to your data as soon as you connect to their network.
Typosquatting is a scam that tricks you into giving out information, such as your username and password to a financial account, by appearing to be a legitimate website. The scammers use tricky URLs, such as a link ending in “.om” instead of “.com,” or a domain name that is misspelled.
6. Bank Loan or Credit Card Scams
Bank loan or credit card scams typically ask for your personal information in return for a bank offer that appears too good to be true. Don’t be fooled by “guarantees” that you’ll get large amounts of money that are already “pre-approved.”
7. Fake Shopping Websites
Especially around the holidays, lots of fake e-commerce business websites pop up, which steal your credit card information instead of sending you the product you think you’re buying. Make sure you take steps to ensure you’re not on a fake website before making a purchase.
8. Online Dating Scams
Online dating attracts millions of people around the world who are looking for love, but it’s also a great way for manipulative criminals to get closer to people they can scam. Make sure you practice common sense with online dating websites and apps and avoiding giving any personal data to people you don’t know in real life.
Staying Safe Online
New scams are created every day. Besides practicing common sense and making sure you’re on legitimate websites, it’s important to invest in identity protection so that you’re prepared to minimize damage if you fall victim to a scam.