Scams are everywhere these days. You probably get several phone calls a week trying to tell you about your extended auto warranty or that your social security number has been compromised.
And everyone’s inbox is full of hot young women who want to meet you, affordable pharmaceuticals, and princes who need your help to transfer money.
Ways to Avoid Internet Scams
The persistence and creativity that scammers show would be admirable, if they weren’t out to steal your money. Learn how to spot an online scam so you can avoid falling victim.
If It Seems too Good to be True, It Probably Is
A lot of scams rely on tempting you with the chance to come in to a lot of money. Whether it’s an inheritance from a distant relative you never met, a prize from a lottery you don’t remember entering, or a sure-fire way to make a fortune with forex trading, these online scams promise you the same thing: a lot of money in return for just paying a few fees or making a small initial investment.
Most of us have less money than we want, maybe more money than we need. When something comes along with the promise that we could pay off our debts and live the lives we’ve always wanted, and leave something behind for our kids and grandkids, of course we might be tempted to ignore common sense and follow the scammer’s instructions.
If something seems too good to be true, take a step back and really think about it. Maybe run a quick Google search for similar situations. Ask a trusted friend who won’t make fun of you if you almost fell for a scam.
A Friend in Need is… Maybe Not Actually Your Friend
Have you ever received a frantic message from a friend, family member, or neighbor asking for you to quickly wire them some money? It could be for any number of reasons: they’re on vacation and their wallet was stolen, their car broke down and they can’t afford the repairs until payday, etc etc.
They’re just messaging you from a different number or a new FB account because they lost their phone, got hacked, etc etc.
These scammers will put the pressure on, drawing on your emotional connection to the victim they are impersonating and suggesting an urgent need for money. The longer you delay, the more pushy they become, demanding you initiate a bank transfer right now.
One easy way to follow up on this one is to message your friend or family member through normal channels. Chances are you will find out they are fine, their phone is fine, and you just avoided an online scam.
Another method is to try to trick them up. Ask them a question intended to reveal that they’re not who they say they are. For instance “Are the kids with you?” for someone who doesn’t have kids. Whether they say “yes” or “no”, you know they’re lying!
Beware Online Bullies
Some scammers will try to bully you in to paying them. A current popular scam is to purchase a bunch of passwords from a security leak, and use them to convince victims that they have access to all of their passwords.
This online scam relies on scaring victims with the idea that the hacker has seen you up to something “naughty” online. But they’re always vague about the behavior.
If someone tries to exploit you be sharing an old password and empty accusations about your online habits, just ignore them. But maybe change your passwords just to be safe!