How Frequent Are They?
While the cases of Internet fraud were few and far between in the past decade – mainly because of their novelty – they have since become extremely more common. Potential targets for scammers are individuals and businesses alike and almost every brand with an online presence is impacted by these frauds, according to Forbes. FBI uncovered a staggering number of 3.5 billion dollars which are believed to have been lost to Internet crimes.
The frequency of online scams is also heavily dependent on external factors. For example, global health crises such as pandemics open a whole world of possibilities for aspiring scammers, who take advantage of people in need in an attempt to make a profit. Fortunately, most of them follow similar patterns that are easily recognizable and avoidable, especially once you gain a little bit of insight into their inner workings.
The basis for almost every online scam is one of the following four traditional ones.
1. Email Scam
The easiest and most common method of delivery, the email scam is notorious for its simple yet damaging approach. They frequently act as a middleman for a scam website in an attempt to attract the user to click on a malicious link, which leads further into an elaborate fraud. The person behind the email will try to hide their true identity and instead act as a legitimate sender, most often mimicking a representative of a large company or an institution such as a bank, a revenue service, and others.
The most effective way to avoid email scams is to delete any and all suspicious emails without opening them. This is best done by checking the sender’s address – are there any letters or symbols that shouldn’t be there? If the answer is yes, you’re best off by marking them as spam and removing them from your inbox. Also, you could use Spokeo’s email lookup tool that will give you all the details about the sender, including their full name, their job, and their home address.
2. Phone Call Scam
These are almost identical to the previous entry – the only major difference is the method through which they’re delivered. As the name suggests, phone call scams are entirely executed by giving you a call which can make them much more believable. However, the approach and the end goal is the same. The caller will impersonate a trustworthy individual, but instead of directing you to a website, they’ll try to extract information directly from you.
Not falling a victim to phone call scams is easy – if you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer your phone and don’t call back. A bank or other highly reputable institution won’t use these vulnerable methods to seek compromising details. but they’ll require you to be personally present instead. Running a phone number search through Spokeo is an easy way to see who’s truly behind that phone call, as well as what their intentions are.
3. Online Shopping Scam
The stories of people buying phones and receiving a packaged brick are more common than you might think. Online auction websites are known to be highly saturated with scammers who put ridiculously low prices on highly valuable items, only to send something worthless after receiving the money. Another less common variant is a full-fledged fake shopping website, which can even steal credit card numbers, PIN, and other personal details.
Before buying anything from an individual seller, make sure that they have a history of good reviews from past buyers. These should in the dozens, ideally hundreds since it’s very easy to get a couple of fake five-star reviews. Find the seller or the website’s owner information and run them through Spokeo’s email lookup tool or a phone number search, making sure to check for any criminal records.
People who use dating websites are the ideal targets for catfishes. They prey on those who seek a romantic relationship by pretending to be a perfect partner for the target person. Catfishes first try to gain trust by showing affection, which escalates into financial demands that often come with a fake sob story behind them.
A common giveaway of a catfish is their avoidance of video chatting and picture sharing. Always ask for visual proof that the person is truly who they’re claiming to be. Even if you do receive a picture, run it through Google’s reverse image search tool, since they could’ve simply got it off the Internet. Finally, take everything with a grain of salt – you never know who might be hiding behind the computer screen.
Maguire Haigh is a marketing manager for Spokeo. He is interested in the latest technology trends, marketing strategies, and business development. He also prefers traveling, exploring the world, and meeting new people. Maguire has great experience in creating and editing articles on different topics.