The internet has brought so many positive changes to the world. It’s hard to remember how life was before the world wide web, but one thing is for sure: Everything was much more complicated. With that in mind, there are also some negative effects of the internet that are sadly less talked about. One of these is how easy it has become for scammers and crooks to commit felonies without getting caught.
The internet, being a land of endless possibilities, is naturally also a land of endless risks. From hacking to data fraud, from fake institutions to the dark web, the virtual world has it all. However, keeping away from these threats is not as complex as it may sound. Below are three very common scamming methods, and the ways to fight them.
This crime has been around pretty much as long as the internet exists. The name ‘phishing’ is derived from its phonetic similarity to ‘fishing’, since the scammer baits a victim into giving sensitive information that can be used for extortion, fraud, or theft. The crooks disguise themselves, usually as a trusted source like a government institution or as someone the victim is familiar with. Next, they approach the victim via emai, or chat, and fool the victim into providing information like their bank account number, credit card data, passwords, etc.
Avoiding these scams demands only one thing: caution. Any form of communication received online should be examined carefully. Take a look at the email address, for example, and see if it has any typos. If something looks suspicious, you can always call up the sender and ask them if they tried to contact you. If you have fallen victim to a phishing scam, don’t panic. Cancel your credit cards, change your passwords, and report any transactions falsely made in your name.
Once trading on the internet (stocks, commodities, currencies, and the likes) became popular, dodgy “trading websites” popped up like mushrooms after the rain. These sites look very authentic, and it takes the victim a while to understand that they have been tricked – once they do, it’s usually too late. Of these, one of the most common scams is called a ‘forex scam’, where the website convinces the victim to gamble on exchange rates between currencies.
Chances are with these websites that the investor is going to lose money, but even if the investor profits, usually the ‘broker’ disappears when the investor wants to claim their money. The safest bet here is to stay away from these sites, but if such a thing has happened to you, act fast and report to the police. There are also agencies which can help you legally recover your money (or some of it) from these crooks.
Phony online stores
We can’t live without e-commerce today, and that’s not a bad thing. The problem is that e-commerce is also a bedrock for illegitimate activity – mainly crooks who take your money and give you nothing in return. It’s easy to promise the world on the internet and then disappear when it’s time to deliver.
How can you be sure that you’re not making deals with online crooks? First of all, check out the website you want to buy from. A simple Google search can bring up a lot of warning signs, as well as reviews from other clients. Make sure you get a receipt for your purchase, and if you don’t get one right away – call the deal off.