Some scams are easy to spot, while others are so sly you may not know you have been scammed until it’s too late.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It always is.
Almost everyone will be the target of a scam at some time…or you may have already been scammed. So, here are the types of online scams you should watch out for and know what you should do about them.
- 1 Lottery, sweepstakes and competition scams
- 2 Job and Employment Scams
- 3 Charity Scams
- 4 Online Investment Scam
- 5 Small Business Scams
- 6 Dating and Romance Scam
- 7 Banking, credit card, and online account scams.
- 8 Threats and Extortions
- 9 Online Shopping Scams
- 9.1 Protect your hard-earned money.
- 9.2 Protect your identity.
- 9.3 Protect your computer.
- 9.4 Trust your gut.
Lottery, sweepstakes and competition scams
Everyone must have already received this kind of email. An email, letter, or text message from an overseas lottery or sweepstakes company arrives from out of nowhere.
It says you have won a lot of money or whimsical prizes in a lottery or sweepstakes competition you did not even enter or heard of. These scams try to trick you into giving money upfront or your personal details to receive the prize.
Scammers typically claim that you need to pay fees or taxes before they can release your winnings. You may also have to call or text a premium rate phone number to claim your prize.
Remember, you cannot win a prize if you haven’t even joined in the first place.
What should you do if you receive this kind of email scam?
1. Keep your money – and your information – to yourself.
Never share your financial information with someone who contacts you and claims to need it. And never wire money to anyone you don’t even know. Both payment methods are a sure sign of a scam.
2. Pass this information on to a friend.
You probably mark this kind of email as a scam, but you should send them to your friends as a warning in case that they receive this email too.
Job and Employment Scams
Jobs and employment scams trick you into handing over your money by offering you a ‘guaranteed’ way to make fast money or a high-paying job for little effort.
These scams involve offers to work from home or set up and invest in a business opportunity. Scammers promise a job, high salary or substantial investment return following initial upfront payments.
These payments may be for a business plan, training course, software, uniforms, security clearance, taxes, or fees. These scams are often promoted through spam email or even in legitimate job-hunting websites.
Another employment scam is that they offer an offline data entry job. Before you can do the job, they will first ask you to pay for administrative fees or receive equipment or a kit necessary to start the job.
Sometimes, they will give you money or payment in check. The scammer will send you a check. You will deposit the check and then, a day or two later, the scammer will ask you to send money to someone else (either for work supplies or for some other reason). After you send the money, you realize the check they sent you has bounced.
Sometimes these bogus companies will really do some effort in the process to make you think they are real. Some even actually put a week of “training” before sending a fraudulent check.
Sometimes, these scammers will go as far as to interview you – but the interview will not be in front of a camera but just in an instant messaging platform.
How to spot them, and what should you do to avoid them?
1 – Again, if it’s too good to be true, then it is.
If you see a job listing that promises an extremely high salary, a very flexible schedule, or both, be suspicious.
2 – Never pay any money to get a job.
Jobs were supposed to pay you, not the other way around. Many of the scams will ask you for money early on – either to cover the cost of equipment, to pay an administrative fee, or to pay for a test.
3 – Research the company.
Before sending someone your personal information, research the company or the person first. Make sure they have a legitimate business, website. Keep researching until you feel confident that it is a genuine person or company.
4 – Ask for a signed contract.
Before beginning to do any sort of work, ask for a signed, legal employment contract. Some of the job-hunting websites like Upwork has some security measures if you will do the deal inside their site.
5 – Trust your gut.
Remember to trust your instincts. If something seems “off” about a position, do more research before responding or reaching out.
Some scammers take advantage of the people who want to donate to a good cause.
They usually impersonate genuine charities and ask for donations or contact you claiming to collect money after natural disasters or significant events that have been in the news.
To avoid this:
1- Approach the charity organizations directly if you want to donate.
2- Legitimate charities are registered.
Check first the organization’s credentials to see if they are a genuine charity.
3- Never. Ever. Send Money.
Never send money or give personal information, credit card details, or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
Online Investment Scam
If you are looking for an instant way to make money, watch out – scammers have invented all sorts of fake money-making opportunities to target your enthusiasm and get hold of your cash.
While it may sound convincing, in reality, the scammer will just take your money, and you will never receive the promised returns.
Small Business Scams
If you own a small business, you can be targeted by scams. Scammers sometimes trick you into signing up by disguising the offer as an unresolved invoice or a free entry, but with a hidden subscription agreement in the fine print. They might also call your business, pretending that a service or product has already been ordered and ask for payment over the phone. It will really depend on what your business is, but they usually target small businesses because they know they don’t have that much security.
And that’s what our website is for.
Find out the best CyberSecurity solution for small businesses.
Dating and Romance Scam
Scammers create fake profiles on legitimate dating websites.
They use these profiles to try to enter into a relationship with you and do everything until they earn your trust. The scammer will develop a strong bond with you then ask for money to help cover costs associated with illness, injury, travel, or a family crisis. Sometimes, it’s the other way around. They will say that they will give you money or gifts, and then, later on, will ask money to clear up something in the embassy or customs.
Scammers seek to exploit your emotions by pulling on your heartstrings. Sometimes the scammers will take months and months to build up the rapport.
Do a background check and never send any money unless you already met them for real.
Banking, credit card, and online account scams.
Scammers send emails or text messages that appear to be from your bank, a financial institution, or online payment service. They usually claim that there is a problem with your account and request that you verify your details on a fake but convincing copy of the bank’s website.
Don’t ever share your card details. Even banks will never ask for the complete number of your credit card.
Check the website you’re transacting with and see if it’s the right website.
Threats and Extortions
Threats to life, arrest, or other involve demands by scammers to pay money that you supposedly owe and threats if you do not cooperate.
These scams use threats designed to scare you into handing over your money and can even include threats to your life.
The scammer may call you and pressure you into paying instantly, threaten you with arrest, or say they will send the police to your house if you refuse. Scammers will also send emails claiming you owe money for things like a speeding fine, tax office debt, or unpaid bill.
How to deal with this?
Don’t be pressured by a threatening caller or email. Stay calm. Stop, think, and check whether their story is true. A government agency (or the police) will never ask you to pay by unusual methods such as wire transfer or Bitcoin. Hang up if you receive a call like this. And again, never send money or give credit card details, online account details or personal information to anyone you don’t know or trust and never by email or over the phone. If you are concerned about your safety, contact the police.
Online Shopping Scams
Scammers prey on consumers and businesses that are buying or selling products and services. Not every transaction is legitimate. Online shopping scams involve scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site.
While many online sellers are legitimate, unfortunately, scammers can use the anonymous nature of the internet to rip off unsuspecting shoppers. Scammers use the latest technology to set up fake retailer websites that look like official online retail stores.
Many of these websites offer luxury items such as popular brands of clothing, jewelry, and electronics at meager prices. Sometimes you will receive the item you paid for, but they will be fake; other times, you will receive nothing at all.
The biggest tip-off that a retail website is a scam is the method of payment.
Scammers will often ask you to pay using a money order, pre-loaded money card, or wire transfer, but if you send your money this way, it’s unlikely you will see it again or receive your purchased item.
They open the store for a short time, often selling counterfeit branded clothing or jewelry. After making some sales, the stores disappear. They also use social media for advertising their fake website, so do not trust a site just because you have seen it advertised or shared on social media. The best way to detect a phony trader or social media online shopping scam is to search for reviews before purchasing.
Protect yourself by checking the website’s refund or returns policy. The better online shopping and auction sites have detailed complaint or dispute handling processes in case something goes wrong. When making online payments, only pay for items using a secure payment service—look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as PayPal.
Protect your hard-earned money.
Keep in mind that a bank will never ask for your credit/debit details in an email. Never click a link or open suspicious attachment. Be wary of things that are good to be true such as investments promising a high return with little or no risk. Never pay money to claim a lottery prize or get a job.
Protect your identity.
Treat your personal details like you would treat money. You should never give out your personal information to someone you don’t know or trust.
Protect your computer.
Install security software, antivirus, or anti-malware that protects your computer viruses and other malicious programs. Do not click on any links in a spam email or open files attached to them as this may install harmful programs. Keep your software up-to-date, including web browsers. Enable the ‘auto-update’ function in e-security and other software.
Trust your gut.
Remember to trust your instincts. If something seems “off” delete, do not respond, run away from it.
Have you ever been scammed? Let us know on the comments below.