The internet is a rough neighborhood. You’ll find all kinds of scumbags out there! With cybercrime being as lucrative as it is, scams have become widespread. Many of the scams out aim to steal money or any sensitive information that you might have. As this business gets more profitable, there’s no hope of anything changing. Therefore, you need to learn all the digital self-defense techniques written in the book so you can stay from the most common internet scams. Let’s take a dive in!
General Guidelines to Avoid Scams
It’s pretty easy to avoid internet scams if you are a well-informed internet user. Most importantly, stay alert and avoid anything that you feel uncertain about. Here are a couple of tips that you should keep in mind:
- If You Won a Prize, Run!: Always know that you’re right when it’s too good to be true. Delete any emails offering you free money or prizes to protect yourself from any common email scams. If you never got involved in any competition, then you shouldn’t be receiving emails from any competition.
- Ignore Suspicious Donation Requests: Be aware of those who like to take advantage of national disasters to cash in on donations. Scammers love to use other people’s compassion to steal their hard-earned money. It is one of the most common internet scams in the book!
- Don’t Respond to Suspicious Messages Requesting Info: Never disclose your personal or private information to anyone. This includes your bank account information, credit cards, social security number, and everything else. If you do, you could become the victim of a pretty common email scam.
We’ve all received those “You’ve Won the Lottery” emails and the most painful part of it is that it’s just not true! No, you won’t be receiving the millions that you need to spend the rest of your life on the beach. Just in case you want to investigate the matter further, here are a couple of warning signs you should look out for:
- If the sender is an individual and has a vague email address, such as [email protected], then it’s definitely a scam.
- You will definitely be able to tell if it is a common email phishing scam when your name is not listed in the “To” section of the email. This means thousands of people received this email.
It may look innocent, but it’s not! If you’re a fan of environmental issues and human rights, you may receive an email survey to collect data on your opinion. Though you may think your participation is crucial, don’t take the survey unless you’re sure you signed up to receive it. If the source is unfamiliar, then it’s bad news! Hit the delete button!
Facebook Hijacking Scams
Suppose you’re on Facebook one day and suddenly you receive a message saying “Hey man, can we talk?” If it’s someone you talk to on a regular basis, there should be nothing to worry about. But if you guys are just mere acquaintances, this should raise a million red flags. The person on the other end might ask you for money because he/she is “stuck overseas”. He/she might entice you to look into a business opportunity by clicking a link. The alleged hacker might even claim to be collecting donations for a charity or for a friend who is tight on money. The best way to approach this is to find an alternative way to contact your friend. Better be safe than sorry!
‘Oh my God! Is this you?’ Scam
Ever receive those messages on social media, whether it’s on Facebook or Twitter, which say “Here’s a naked picture of you?” If you have, then you could have been a victim of another hacking scheme! The message that you will get would typically ask you to click on a link, where a hacker will be able to hijack your account and spread the scam to all your friends. It’s one of the most common internet scams that you’ll find out there. Definitely, do your best to avoid them.
Scams for Collecting Donations for the Sick
These scams are nothing short of sick. They use people’s compassion to collect money and in the end, all of it goes into the dirty pockets of some cyber scumbag. Basically, on your email or on social media, you may find a post with a picture of a baby that says “Tommy has Stage 4 cancer. Click here to donate $5.” This is widespread on Facebook because every time you click the link, it shows all your contacts that you donated, which attracts others to the campaign. Avoid social media campaigns from people you don’t know. Don’t let internet predators get your money!
Twitter Users! Beware of Hidden URLs
When using Twitter, many people use TinyURL.com to shorten links. Clicking links can be a pretty serious thing to do. Sometimes you’ll receive new followers on Twitter whose content looks all spammy, follows thousands of accounts (but has almost no followers), and has a weird profile picture. Beware of those followers because if you click on their links, you could be downloading malware or spyware. Before you know, you’ve got a major breach.
PayPal scams are pretty common. They’ll make you believe that something is wrong with your PayPal account when you receive a warning message which says “Your account will be deactivated if you don’t …” Your immediate reaction as expected would be to immediately log in to your PayPal account on what you may think is the PayPal website. However, it turns out that it isn’t! In fact, it’s a fake website designed to look exactly like the legit PayPal website. This is what cybercriminals do to get your username and password. Here are a couple of ways you can tell whether it is a scam or not:
- You’re not identified by name in the email. For example, some emails start with “Dear Valued Customer”. This should raise some suspicions. Be sure to be extremely cautious about this.
- If the sender’s email address looks suspicious, then you should definitely stay away. Make sure it is always a “@paypal.com” email address before opening.