6 Common Online Scams And How To Spot Them

6 Common Online Scams And How To Spot Them

The rise of the digital age made a lot of people’s lives easier. Now, you can conveniently complete a task or accomplish transactions with the use of your gadget. However, this advancement also created avenues for threats to arise. Cybercrimes that attack people’s personal information are prevalent online. Hence, if you want to guard yourself against these fraudulent acts, you should be wary of the common scams people pull on the internet.

Here are six cons you should be careful of:

1. Pyramid Schemes

Pyramid Schemes

If you’re looking for a means to earn money quickly, you may want to steer clear of companies with a pyramid business structure. Although there are legitimate multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that operate legally, some sketchy businesses also take advantage of this business model. 

You may be lured with the idea of an uncapped earning potential when you first inquire about the company. They may tell you that you can earn more whenever you recruit new individuals and encourage you to sell their products to keep your income flowing. Since you earn based on how hard you work, you can take your job anywhere and even work remotely if you wish. However, you may need to disclose your personal information and pay upfront fees even to start.  

In addition, these types of businesses aren’t always welcome by the public. For example, although companies like Amway MLM are considered legitimate, their operations are often scrutinized by the public due to their tainted reputation.  

It can be difficult to distinguish a pyramid scheme from an MLM, especially when most transactions you’ll do are online. So, if you want to go down a safer route to earn, it’s advisable to seek less risky businesses and invest your money elsewhere.  

2. Phishing

Phishing

One of the most common types of online scams many people fall prey to is phishing. This type of operation attempts to steal a person’s personal information by sending them an email or text asking for their data or hacking into their account.

You may receive a message from a seemingly familiar source like your bank’s official email address or a mail list you signed up for. The message’s contents will appear professional and legitimate to make you believe there’s nothing to be wary about. Then, you may be asked to input your details to confirm your account or click on a link attached to the email.

Once you enter any sensitive information, hackers can access your account and easily take your data and utilize it for other purposes. You may end up getting your bank account details stolen if you’re not careful with what emails or messages you entertain.

If you want to guard yourself against phishing scams, you can start by deleting any spam messages in your inbox. This way, you won’t accidentally click on something that’s attempting to steal your information. In addition, blocking unwanted messages will help you distinguish which emails you receive are from legitimate sources.

3. Online Shopping Scams  

 Online Shopping Scams

Nowadays, many people opt to shop for items they need online instead of going to a physical store. Various established brands offer shipment options to their customers, making the consumer’s shopping experience more convenient. If you’re familiar with online shopping sites, you know there are various payment options you can choose when purchasing a product.  

In some cases, transactions through known online shops aren’t risky and easy to do. There are protection protocols to ensure the information you enter to pay for your item won’t get leaked or stolen. However, there are still instances when an online shop won’t fulfill their end of the bargain or rob you of your money.  

For instance, a product you already paid for online may not reach you since the seller never intended to send you the items you bought. There’s also a chance when the goods you’ll get will be low-quality and won’t justify the money you spent on it.  

This being said, if you’re fond of shopping online, it would be helpful if you stick with sites you trust. Buy from well-known eCommerce platforms to ensure you won’t be scammed. You can also try to look for reviews and do some research first before buying an item from an unfamiliar source. You may also find stores that allow payment after receiving the item. This way, you can be sure you won’t waste your money. 

4. Illegitimate Crowdfunding Or Fundraiser

Illegitimate Crowdfunding Or Fundraiser

Some people may take advantage of your intentions and fool you into putting money on a charity or fundraiser that’s not real. Since it’s now easy to set up virtual crowdfunding or fundraising programs, someone can use it for illegal purposes.

The bad guys trying to earn money from charitable people will try to create a fake cause, like paying for a person’s medical bills or sending less fortunate children to school, enticing people to help out. They would then set up avenues where anyone can send money remotely, like bank transfers or online transactions. Once the people behind the scam get the funds, they’ll disappear and won’t prove that the money was spent accordingly.

Of course, this fraudulent method shouldn’t stop you from helping out legitimate causes, especially if you support crowdfunding or fundraising projects. One way to guard yourself against deceitful people asking for money is by donating your money through trusted channels.

For instance, you can opt to support charities you know are legitimate and well-established. You may also try to do some research first before you hand over a considerable sum of funds. This way, you can guarantee that your donation will be spent well.

5. Software Downloads

Software Downloads

There are a lot of benefits you can reap from browsing the net. For instance, you can gather information or files you need for a particular purpose, like work or school. You can also download applications that’ll make it easier for you to use your gadget or perform tasks online. However, there are instances when downloading something through the internet will compromise your hardware and software.

Downloading a file through unreliable websites may come with harmful software, like malware or bugs. If you install it to your gadget, you may experience poor performance or risk a privacy breach. Malware can easily take information saved in your hardware and use it for fraudulent purposes. You may also lose important documents if you don’t guard yourself against software viruses.

Fortunately, you can set up anti-virus software to help block any suspicious sites and keep any bad software from invading your gadget. If you want to keep your information secured, you should avoid downloading files without checking the sources and refrain from clicking skeptical links when browsing online.

6. Lottery Scams

Lottery Scams

It can be tempting to fall for messages that say you’ve won a certain amount of money through a lottery you never even entered. Someone may try to contact you through an email or text message stating you won, and you need to claim your prize money within a certain period.

You will then be required to either pay a fee to get your money or provide personal information so the amount can be transferred to you. If you encounter this type of scam, don’t be fooled and refrain from answering the message.

Remember that someone offering you a large sum of money without asking for anything shouldn’t be trusted.

How To Guard Yourself Against Online Scams  

How To Guard Yourself Against Online Scams

Due to the anonymity and unlimited access the internet can provide to its users, scams can pop up anytime and take advantage of innocent people. Thus, it’s vital to know how you can protect yourself against fraudulent acts online. 

Here are some tips you can remember whenever you access the web:

  • Keep Your Contact Details Private: You can limit the number of people who know about your email address and number so you can prevent suspicious accounts or sites from sending you spam messages. You can avoid receiving emails or SMS that attempt to steal your data and prevent any virus or bugs from invading your hardware and software.
  • Make A Call: If someone contacts you asking for your details, don’t disclose anything immediately and call for confirmation first. For instance, if your bank sends you an email asking you to change your online banking password, try to call them and ask about the message you received. Contact a reliable number published through their official site or profile, and confirm if they were the ones who got in touch with you. 
  • Taking this extra precautionary measure will ensure you won’t provide your information through untrustworthy channels.
  • Be Meticulous: You should always stay cautious when doing any transaction online, especially when it involves money. Remember that an offer promising you high returns or quick profits may not be legitimate. Hence, it’s better not to risk your hard-earned funds or personal information for the promise of easy money that may never materialize.

Final Thoughts

The convenience of online transactions and the internet certainly made many people’s lives easier. However, its benefits also come with some setbacks. For instance, various online scams aim to rob personal information or even money from unguarded individuals. Hence, you should know how to distinguish online scams from legitimate means of data exchange on the web.

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Lucas is an IT student completing his studies in Networking. He worked at Ycombinator as a research analyst. He loves to write about his technology experiences. He also enjoys traveling and captures the best moments with his Canon 5d lens. He is a review specialist at Reviewsed.