With the prominence and commonplace of the Internet today, it comes with scammers who try to take advantage of users. In this way, scammers have users tricked into supplying them with their private information or sending them money directly. They employ a series of different tactics to mislead persons through social engineering or even fooling them into a false sense of security. To that end, we'll be taking a look at some of these common online scams and some good tips and habits to pick up to help keep yourself safe from falling victim to them.
Common Online Scams
One of the oldest scams which somehow is still popular and still works, is commonly referred to as the "Nigerian Prince" scam. The original scam spins a story of a rich Nigerian royal being in need of some fees to be paid so they can send you a large sum of money for some obscure reason. Over time, however, this scam has evolved to encompass other scenarios as well, such as an international company offering you the position of a lifetime but requiring you to pay fees to get the paperwork to make it official. The lottery scam is also another type of scam that has stemmed from this. Typically, the general idea of these types of scams is to tempt the target with a reward for them that seems too good to be true while requesting some fee from them for them to be able to get said reward.
Pyramid schemes are an age-old structure that is without a doubt, some of the more shady businesses. They always push the pretense that the newcomers to the pyramid can always make money under those who were there before them by looking for even more people to join, however, the catch is usually something along the lines of the newcomer having to pay a fee. As with most scams, pyramid schemes prey on people by using social engineering to reward people only after they have paid a fee for that reward. Pyramid schemes, however, are even more particularly horrendous because those at the top can make the entire process more convoluted only to make themselves richer as more people join on; hence the name "pyramid".
With the advent of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, the Bitcoin Scam is a bit more recent but a powerful one. Because these words are being used as "buzzwords" now, people with an interest in getting into the market make for easy targets. The scammer can typically convince someone who's not well educated in the area that they can sell them Bitcoins through some means; sometimes even through a pyramid scheme, and then take the person's money without providing them actual Bitcoin, or at an extremely high price.
Sometimes, a person can be tricked while browsing the internet with regards to a "free" virus check because it has randomly identified a virus on your device. These types of scams are called antivirus scams and function by preying on the fears of people who are usually not as familiar with computers. They claim the user's device is infected with some virus but that there's no need to worry because their antivirus can solve the problem. They then download the scammer's software which may or may not come with a price tag and then, is probably also a virus or nefarious program itself.
Of lately, there's also been an influx of ransom scams as well, also done through emails. Typically, the scammer will send you an email claiming that they have some personal information of yours, and because the email is unfamiliar to the mark, they might be inclined to believe it. These emails seek to insight fear into the mark by making such claims and embellishing on them by stating they gained access to your email account and all your other private information. Then finally, the email will give the mark a specific set of instructions; usually, a price of money for them to pay, or the scammer will release the information to your close friends and family. Basically, they will hold your information ransom until you follow their instructions but in truth, they might have only gotten your email and not access to your system; let alone, any private or sensitive information.
Prevention Tips and Habits
To start with, one of the most useful tips we can follow to avoid falling victim to these scams is to simply educate yourself about your device and how the internet and browsing works. Regardless of what you may see on a website, there is no way for you to suddenly download a virus without you yourself not initiating the download. Once you're aware of this, then it's a simple matter to be mindful of what you're browsing and downloading. This goes even doubly so for anything you're doing online that involves the transfer of funds - be mindful of the information you're sending and to whom you're sending it. This will also help you to the point of not even downloading questionable software on your devices as well.
Another good rule of thumb is to hold onto a good deal of skepticism. If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. There is no reason why a lottery, job, or alleged royal whom you've never met would suddenly contact you with some amazing offer to turn your life around at some small fee. No matter how tempting that opportunity might be, do some research and see if the story you're being told is even true before you commit to any action.
Managing your emails is a very useful thing to do so that you can protect yourself and save yourself some hassle with dealing with too much clutter and scams mixed in between. By ensuring that your email's spam rules are secure and airtight, you'll find that any questionable emails will be marked with a warning or are even blocked and deleted from the moment you receive them; without you ever having to do a thing.
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