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Online Security: The Most Common Online Scams and How To Avoid Them

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The Most Common Online Frauds and Ways To Avoid Them

Due to the web’s popularity and the advent of internet-enabled computers and phones, online scams became a significant concern. From 2014 to 2020, the U.S. lost $19.7 billion from scam calls. Additionally, from January to March 2021 alone, criminals seized over $42 million from these fraudulent acts.

Considering these data, individuals and organizations should take notice and remain vigilant online. On the other hand, if you want to discover the most common online scams, please read on. In this guide, you’ll learn just that, plus pointers on how to avoid them.

1. Email scam

Since email is one of the oldest forms of online communication, email scams are also prevalent for a long time now. Accordingly, criminals came up with different ways to victimize individuals using this method. As such, today, email scams contain deceptive links, false advertisements, and money stealing tactics.

While email scams are sometimes to avoid, there are still things that help in spotting one. In detail, most email scams contain impossibly great shop deals, messages, or suspicious links that steal money, infects a computer with malware, or hijacks a user identity. If a message asks for sensitive data like account emails and passwords or doesn’t use an established domain (ex. official@company.com or help-line@company.com), it’s likely a scam.

How to avoid it?

To avoid email scams, you can set measures when opening emails. In detail, it’s best not to open strange or emails whose senders you don’t recognize. On the other hand, if you opened one, please don’t reply, answer anything, and click any attached web links. Lastly, to be sure, you can use a tool like Spokeo to perform an email search on an accounts’ profile, location, and owner identity.

2. Phone call scam

Currently, call scams are either by a person or a programmed digital robot, hence the name robocall. Moreover, during fraud calls, criminals entice individuals with excellent investment deals, money-making opportunities, or faking fee penalties. In the process, they can steal one’s money, online and bank accounts, and identity.

In a call, if the other end asks for sensitive data like bank information, an account password, or doesn’t answer your questions, you’re likely in a scam call. Also, if a caller rushes things or threatens you with account suspension, fee charges, and other similar reasons, it’s best to disconnect.

How to avoid it?

Scam calls can’t incur damage when you don’t pick them up-as such, not answering unknown callers is a good practice. Besides, when the other drops, please don’t redial or call them yourself. When during a call, don’t provide personal info, account details, or other data. Lastly, Spokeo’s reverse phone lookup feature allows you to identify a caller’s name, location, and online profile to avoid fraud.

3. Online shopping scam

Online shopping scams come in several forms. The popular ones are banner or pop-up ads on an insecure site or application and phishing links inside messages or emails. Once clicked, the browser will open disguised shopping sites that hijack payment information, location, account, or install malware to a device.

Typically, these ads or links include suspiciously low-cost deals compared to other shops, pushy banners, or low-quality site components. Additionally, scam shopping sites don’t have URL SSL Certificates (secure indicators in the browser address bar), genuine customer reviews, or mentions from known online publications.

How to avoid it?

Avoid online shopping scams by checking the legitimacy of a website. In other words, when visiting one, see if the URL is complete, not copycats, or only similar to other famous sites. Also, view if the browser marks the site secure or insecure.

When shopping, don’t pay too much upfront and evaluate if the payment system is safe. Besides, you can search customer reviews online for additional authenticity. Finally, you can check the store’s contacts through Spokeo’s reverse phone number search or email lookup feature to check the owner’s profile, location, and criminal records.

4. Catfishing

Catfishing is a method employed by criminals to pose as another person on social media sites or forums. While these individuals use the tactic for violent acts, it also became a way to steal cash, online accounts, bank details, and other information.

Typically, an attacker uses someone else’s profile photos and details and impersonates a person related to or close to a target. This way, they will have a higher chance of success.

How to avoid it?

Unless you’re sure that it’s the real person you’re communicating with, then please don’t provide any personal data. Moreover, don’t send any money, your current location, or other sensitive information. You can also check an account’s profile picture through Google’s Image Search and see any suspicious matches. Lastly, as a final resort, asking for a video call should verify a person’s identity.

5. Booking and online rental scam

As their name suggests, booking and online rental scams are tactics of seizing money from fake online rental listings. To gain traction, attackers post relatively lower rental fees or excellent but faux furniture, scenes, and rooms.

After users pay money upfront for reservations, booking, or other fees, these fake staff will cut their lines and sometimes take down their original listing posts.

How to avoid it?

You can avoid being a victim of these scams by staying away from impossibly affordable prices for expensive or lavish-looking places. Also, you can use Google Image Search again to learn if the photos in the listing are from somewhere else.

Again, it’s best not to pay beforehand and make sure to demand proofs for legitimacy. If it’s on a listing site, you can check for user comments, reviews, or the post creator’s profile. Besides, you can always ask for calls, video chats, and other ways to prove their identity.

Author Bio

Maguire Haigh is a marketing manager for Spokeo. He is interested in the latest technology trends, marketing strategies and business development. He also prefers travelling, exploring the world and meeting new people. Maguire has great experience in creating and editing articles on different topics.

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