As long as there has been the Internet, there have been online scammers. These people will go to great lengths to con a poor, unsuspecting samaritan into giving up their pertinent information, identity, details, or bank account numbers. As long as people are falling for these too-good-to-be-true opportunities, the prevalence of these scams will only increase. While the Internet and online security become more and more advanced as the years pass, so to do the tactics of these e-scams.
The wide scope of online identity fraud has goaded the FBI, FTC, and independent businesses to issue warnings on how to avoid online scams and keep yourself protected. The first step on this list is always this: Do not respond to unsolicited e-mail, and do not click on any embedded links within those e-mails. This usually opens up Pandora’s box, and once it is open, it is hard to close. Also, avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that ask for personal information. Make sure to research a link: A legit, secure URL will redirect to an ‘HTTPS’ address, not just ‘HTTP.’ If you feel that you must open a link, open it manually into your browser, just don’t click any links!
Always question e-mails and opportunities that seem too good to be true, because they almost always are. Ask questions like these: Why would this company be offering such a great deal? Why do they need my bank info? Why must I call this toll-free number, and where will it lead me? Here is a list of 10 popular e-scams that still get people today.
10) Nigerian Wealth E-mail Scam
Variations of this scam have been around in snail mail form since the 1920s, but they have only become more advanced as technology has grown. You would think everyone would know about this scam in 2014, and that nobody would fall for it, but you’d be wrong.
This scam preys on the empathy of a user. A wealthy Nigerian family or a widowed African woman is trying to get money out of the country. They offer you a large percentage of their millions for very small tasks. All you have to do is pay the various “legal fees” to release the money. The more you are willing to pay, the more they will steal from you. Just ask yourself this: How many wealthy Nigerians do you know that need your specific help, and why do they need you?
9) Fraud Recovery Scams
This scam is particularly despicable because it victimizes those who have already been victimized. These scams promise to refund and recover money already lost to schemes (such as the Nigerian Wealth scam). The scammers create phony recovery programs to restore a victim’s lost money, but first you must pay an up-front fee.
A recent spin has the scammers pretending to be legitimate companies such as Google, Microsoft, or a security company, telling you they’ve remotely caught a virus. They say they’ll issue refunds if you provide bank information for the direct-deposit reimbursement. That reimbursement never happens, of course.
8) Funeral Service Scams
Another disgusting scam that preys on people’s emotions. Malware crusaders steal the names of legitimate funeral homes, send invitation notices to an unnamed friend or relative’s memorial service, with an attached link to celebrate the friend’s life. The invitation appears authentic at first glance, but the danger is in the attached link, typically downloading malware to your computer rather than redirecting you to a funeral service site.
Contact the supposed funeral service if the e-mail looks suspicious, to confirm the funeral. Don’t click on any links! And ask yourself: Do you have any recent friends who have died who would invite you to such an impersonal service? An unnamed friend?
7) “Make Money Fast” Chain E-Mail Pyramid Scheme
This scam sends you a list of names, and you are asked to send a minimal amount of money (usually $5 or so) to the person at the top of the list, add your name to the bottom, and then forward the list to a number of people. When your name reaches the top of the list, if the chain of supporters if large enough, you could potentially make millions.
Keep in mind that the scammer’s name always stays at the top of the list without you knowing, and he or she is the only one getting money. Also, should you fall for this, you run the risk of being charged with criminal fraud, as well as losing your money.
6) Pre-Approved Credit Card With Up-Front-Fee
Legitimate credit card companies charge an annual fee for their loans, but this is applied to the balance of the card, never at sign-up. Also, many credit cards will waive the annual fee if you clear your credit card balance every month.
As for these “pre-approved” loans for exorbitant amounts of money, do you really think a legitimate company would offer such huge credit limits without knowing your financial situation? Why would an authentic bank go to such lengths? Talk about an unsubstantiated loan. The scammers make money for every person that falls for their trick and pays the up-front fee.
5) Support “Fix” Scam
Crooks will pretend to be from Netflix or Microsoft and send phony e-mails to users, saying their account has been suspended for some unknown reason. They are told to call a toll-free number to regain access. This toll-free number helps give the scammer your personal information and then they blackmail you into paying hundreds to “fix” the problem.
First off, legit companies like Netflix or Microsoft would never have you call a toll-free number. Secondly, don’t click on these e-mail messages or links. Once you fall prey to this, a victim is often followed up with the “Fraud Recovery Scam,” to nail you again.
4) Disaster Relief Scams
Another empathetic cause that is taken advantage of is the disaster relief scam. While real people pool money to the Red Cross or other organizations to help aid disaster relief from situations like the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and Katrina, others prey on this kindness.
Scammers set up fake charities and websites to steal donated money. If you were sent an e-mail request to help, do not click on the link or volunteer any financial information. It is likely a phishing attempt. Contact the organization to find out if it is real or not.
3) Bank Information For Phony Great Deals
This is a very common scam during the holiday seasons. Scammers will send e-mails that look like reputable banks, financial institutions, or popular websites. Their link will often mirror the real website, although the address will be slightly different. Once you submit your credit card info to these sites (which are offering great deals on brand items, or discounts on shopping, quick cash, etc), the scammers set up fake accounts in your name.
Purchases on these sites usually lead to one or more of the following: You never receive the item or gift, your credit card details are stolen, and/or you download malware or viruses to your computer. The FBI warns to always inspect the URL to make sure it is ‘HTTPS’ and not just ‘HTTP.’ Find out if the company is legit by calling the sending company to see if those deals are real, and never give out your information over e-mail.
2) Re-Packaging and Re-Shipping Goods
Whenever someone is offering big money for little to no work, be wary. International “companies” offer people absurd amounts of money to re-package and send brand goods internationally, because they can’t do it themselves, because of “US-International Shipping laws.”
You send the item to their “factory” overseas (which is little more than another victim of the same scam), and the item bounces around the world four or five times, until the schemers are free of any legal connection, whereas you could suddenly be found in big trouble for money laundering, or shipping stolen goods, or a wealth of other legal problems, and you never even get the money they promised.
Ask yourself this: Why can’t they do this menial task themselves, if it’s legal? How will they pay me? Who’s paying to ship this… me? That’s just not right.
1) Make Big Money Quick!
This is the most prevalent scam currently out there, and thousands fall for it. One variation is where a phony site offers to show you how to “Get Rich Quick,” and all you have to do is pay 1-3 payments of $33! Whatever they show you never makes much money, and they’ve stolen $100 from you. Now imagine they do that to a thousand people a day.
In the other variation, you still send money to someone, you download their money-making program, are given a sign-up ID and account, and then you give them your PayPal info for the deposits you’ll soon be making. The program runs all day, every day, opening multiple ad windows that generate a per-click revenue… But you aren’t making that huge per-click money, spammers are.
These scams are everywhere, for every industry, and they all promise the same thing: An opportunity to work from home and make thousands of dollars a month. What you really get is: Barely (if any) money, malware, and terrible performance issues for your computer.