Friday, February 22, 2013

Common Internet Scams and How to Avoid Them


The Internet is a powerful resource that connects you to the rest of the world and helps you access knowledge in the blink of any eye. It can also, however, put you in the precarious position of sussing out legitimate offers versus complete cons. These 15 Internet scams are quite popular, but you can avoid falling victim to them by learning to recognize their common red flags.


The Nigerian Scam – Also known as a 419 scam, Nigerian scams offer targets a portion of the email sender’s inheritance in exchange for help claiming the money from a foreign government. Early versions of this email usually cited Nigeria as the country where the money was supposedly held, but updated versions may claim a variety of African nations.

Lottery Scams – The first red flag that a lottery win notification is fraudulent is the fact that you haven’t been playing the lottery, but email notifications can be convincing and the promise of a big reward enticing. If you haven’t played any lotteries or entered any contests, you should regard any email claims that you’ve won one as dubious.
Convincing Fakes of Official Entities – An email that appears to be from a reputable payment processing service or your bank explaining that your account has been compromised is a popular phishing scam, largely because it tends to work. Don’t click on any redirecting links within an email and never give out your account number or password. When in doubt, contact your bank directly.

Item for Sale Scams – Selling an item on an auction site or online classified site can open the floodgates for messages and emails, some of which have fraudulent aims. Anyone asking if they can overpay you for an item in exchange for a wire transfer or cashier’s check seems fishy because it is; in most cases, the check or payment method will prove to be fraudulent, leaving you bereft of your goods and holding the bag on a bad debt.

Employment Scams – In a particularly despicable turn, employment scams are becoming more and more popular as an increasing number of Americans find themselves without a job. Employment ads and websites created by these hucksters may seem legitimate, but they’re actually sophisticated ways of collecting your personal information for floods of spam email or even identity theft.

Disaster Relief Scams – Preying upon the inherent desire to help your fellow man, messages soliciting donations for a natural disaster in some tiny, obscure, developing nation is a lucrative business for scammers.
Travel Scams – Sometimes you’re forced to sit through a presentation about timeshares, but sometimes your information is collected for marketing mail and identity theft. Be wary of any email claiming that you’ve won a free vacation.

Get-Rich-Quick Scams – The idea of building an empire by stuffing envelopes or selling a nutritional supplement isn’t a new one, but the scope and reach of the Internet has created a flood of get-rich-quick scams preying on people’s hopes of hitting it rich.

Sweetheart Scams – A person who pretends to be someone they’re not in an online relationship is called a “catfish.” Catfish may simply be seeking attention and validation, but most are playing a part in order to get as much money as possible out of an unsuspecting mark before mysteriously dying or staging a dramatic breakup scene.

Prime Bank Note Scams – Con artists offering “bank guarantees” that they can purchase at a bargain and sell for top dollar take a fortune from their unsuspecting victims. To make their claims seem even more attractive, these scammers claim that their “guarantees” are issued by “prime banks,” hence the name.

Letter of Credit Scams – The only legitimate letters of credit are issued by banks directly to a recipient for international trade agreement and payment guarantees. Anyone offering a “letter of credit” investment opportunity will probably try to sell you the Golden Gate Bridge if you show an interest.

Goods Not as Listed Scams – Relatively mild in the scheme of things, goods-not-as-purchased schemes generally happen on unregulated classified ads sites or auction sites that openly condone trade in pirated goods. After remitting payment, you will almost always receive some sort of package. In most cases, the goods are completely different than they were described and you have no recourse for regaining your money.

Rogue Anti-Virus Software Scams – The idea that your computer has been infected by a virus is a scary one; after all, what if you lose all of your precious pictures, videos and important documents? Scammers know that most people will fall victim to these cons out of fear of losing their files, so they create convincing anti-virus alerts that require you to pay an activation fee to remove a virus that doesn’t even exist.

Survey Scams – The best case scenario for those who fall victim to a survey scam is that they waste their time and get a few spam emails. More elaborate scams will take your personal information for marketing and identity theft purposes, even though you think you’re just participating in legitimate market research.
Something for Nothing Scams – You’ve probably heard the old adage about things that are too good to be true, and it definitely holds water on the Internet. Anyone offering you fame, fortune and riches simply for being you is almost certainly trying to scam you somehow.


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