We can all agree that the Internet certainly is a magical place: it enables us to have quick access to all kinds of information, to contact people all over the world, do some great shopping, and make fast transactions. Whereas in the past, Internet users had mostly been concerned about viruses that could end up on their computer, today we are increasingly concerned about cyber scammers who are ready to implement all kinds of scams to take hold of our money. This also comes as no surprise if we know how popular online shopping has become. Auction websites, online shops, e-payment systems – those are all fantastic platforms for users, but for scammers as well.
However, the majority of today's websites are places where users and their funds will be protected, but responsible Internet use and timely informing are the most important factors in preventing scams. It's important to remember that every person is the first line of defense against cyber scams, because a careful person that double-checks everything practically cannot be scammed.
On the Internet, the good, ol' rule applies: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is“. Here are the top 5 cyber scams and ways you can spot them.
Phishing is one of the simplest and the most common cyber scam methods, and it can easily happen to anyone who has an email account. The person first receives an email which looks like a message that the person's bank usually sends via email. In the email itself, the footer and the logo of the bank make it seem like it really is an authentic message. The message asks the client to login to their account via link that is inside the message. Clicking the link will lead you to a carefully designed website, that greatly resembles the actual website of the bank, while every next step you take can be fatal for your account balance. In case you suspect you might have received this type of scam email, contact the company that is claimed to be the email sender and check if the message is legitimate.
2. Scam brokers
The trading industry is appealing to many people and has gained great popularity alongside with the Internet and the possibility of online trading. This type of a large and popular market is a magnet for numerous scam brokers. If you're thinking about investing, before you choose your broker, bear in mind that brokers who promise you incredible returns on investment and bonuses are probably not honest brokers. They are known to assign bonuses without authorization from users, and doing their trades for them, as well as disabling withdrawals from the account. All those who are considering online trading are recommended to first do thorough research on brokers and to carefully read their terms and conditions. It is always advised to use services from more experienced brokers.
3. Personal data theft and privacy violations
Personal data like email addresses and telephone numbers are available to others only if we choose so. This data is usually given in case we want to register on a website, while we believe that the company would guarantee safety of data and not to forward it to a third party. Unfortunately, there are cases where personal data thefts occur in this way and later use the data in scams.
4. Identity thefts
Identities are usually stolen to perform other, equally serious criminal acts, so this kind of scam presents a serious security issue. The FBI advises never to give out your personal data, nor your credit card number, unless you're 100% sure who you're giving it to and why.
5. Nigerian letter 419
This kind of online scam sounds so banal, however, a surprising number of people has fallen for it. In the so-called Nigerian letter, you receive a message in which a prime minister of some African country (usually Nigeria) asks you for help with money transfer that will help his hunger-struck country. Of course, as a 'thank-you', you would receive a whooping 30% of the total amount, but before that, you have to pay thousands of dollars for taxes, fees, and others expenses.