Some of the different types of online scams you need to look out for are phishing scams, catfishing, job offer scams and online shopping scams. These online scams try to trick you into giving up your personal information, which scammers will use for malicious purposes. You need to learn how to recognize the different types of online scams to avoid falling for them.
Continue reading to learn more about online scams, the different types of online scams, what to do if you are a victim of an online scam and how to avoid falling victim to one.
What Are Online Scams?
Online scams, commonly known as internet scams, are a type of cybercrime in which a cybercriminal uses the internet to deceive a victim in order to steal money, gain access to sensitive information or for other malicious purposes. Cybercriminals will pose as a familiar face or a reputable business to gain the trust of their victims. They often make contact with their victims through personal or work emails, social media accounts, dating apps or other online methods.
Once a cybercriminal makes contact with their victim, they can trick them into giving up their personal information, login credentials, credit card numbers, Social Security number, address and other sensitive data. Online scams can often lead to identity theft, loss of personal or professional data, as well as financial and credit card fraud.
Different Types of Online Scams
Cybercriminals use a variety of techniques to carry out their online scams. Here are the different types of online scams to look out for.
Phishing is a type of cyber attack in which a cybercriminal sends an unsolicited message to a user with the intent of stealing their personal information. Cybercriminals trick users into revealing their personal information such as their login credentials or credit card numbers by impersonating a familiar face or reputable business.
Phishing scams send messages, such as emails or texts, with a malicious attachment or link that downloads malware on your device or directs you to a spoofed website. These spoofed websites imitate legitimate websites and try to trick you into revealing your personal information.
Catfishing is a type of social engineering attack in which a cybercriminal creates a fake online identity to deceive and exploit someone else. Most catfishing scams try to initiate a romantic relationship with a victim through social media or dating apps. Catfish scammers exploit those who are emotionally vulnerable to steal the victim’s money or personal information.
Job offer scams
Job offer scams are a type of scam in which a cybercriminal creates a fake job listing to lure those actively searching for a new job or a work-from-home job. These fake job listings seem too good to be true as they often promise lots of money for minimal work.
The cybercriminal will post these fake job listings on legitimate job listing websites such as LinkedIn or Indeed. They often create fake websites to make their fake job listings seem legitimate. When a person applies and accepts a fake job listing, the cybercriminal can steal the applicant’s personal information just by asking for it.
Social media scams are online scams, conducted via social media platforms, in which scammers post fake promotions, send malicious links or impersonate online accounts to steal a user’s personal information. Social media scams can come through a user’s newsfeed or messages, where the scammer convinces the victim to click a malicious link or message back their personal information.
Online shopping scams are when scammers try to portray themselves as legitimate online sellers. Scammers will often create a fake website that impersonates a legitimate online retailer. Some scammers create fake accounts on online marketplaces to trick users into thinking they are legitimate sellers. They often leave fake online reviews to make it seem more legitimate.
When a user tries to buy from the fake website, account or page, the scammer tricks the user into giving up their financial and personal information. These types of scammers will bait-and-switch the victim by giving them a counterfeit product or no product at all.
Scareware is a type of social engineering attack that uses psychological manipulation to trick victims into downloading malware on their devices. It often comes in pop-up ads that try to scare you into thinking you have a virus on your device and need to download antivirus software. However, if you click on the pop-up to download the antivirus software, you are actually downloading malware instead.
What To Do If You Get Scammed Online
If you ever fall victim to an online scam, you need to take the following steps to mitigate the damaging effects.
Change compromised passwords
Many online scams attempt to get your login credentials and other personal information. If you accidentally provide your login credentials to a scammer, you need to change your passwords immediately to prevent losing access to your accounts. You also need to change any accounts that reuse the same login credentials to prevent those accounts from being compromised as well.
Scan your device for malware
Some online scams will send a message with an unsolicited link or attachment. These malicious links and attachments are methods of delivering malware. If you click on any unsolicited links or attachments from an online scammer, you need to use antivirus software to scan and remove any malware found on your device.
Freeze your credit
Depending on the information that you gave away to an online scammer, you may need to freeze your credit to prevent scammers from taking out loans under your name. To freeze your credit, you need to individually contact each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You must contact each of the credit bureaus separately because just contacting one to freeze your credit doesn’t automatically freeze it with the other two bureaus. A scammer can still take out loans or credit cards in your name since lenders can use the bureau that you didn’t freeze your credit with.
Credit freezes are necessary to prevent identity theft if your personal information is compromised, but you can also set a fraud alert with the credit bureaus. A fraud alert lets lenders know that your personal information was compromised and a scammer might try to apply for credit under your name. Unlike a credit freeze, your credit is still accessible, but the lenders will have to verify your identity before granting credit. If you plan on setting a fraud alert, you only have to do so with one credit bureau, and then that credit bureau will alert the other two.
Lock your cards
If you lost your debit or credit card information from an online scam, you need to contact your bank and credit lenders to lock or cancel your cards. This will help prevent scammers from making fraudulent charges on any of your payment cards. After locking and canceling your cards, you will have to request a new card to ensure scammers cannot make any future purchases under your name.
Depending on the information that was stolen as a result of the online scam, you may have to contact any involved entities to help you mitigate the effects. If you lose your credit card information or money, you may have to contact the FTC to prevent identity theft or credit card fraud. If you accidentally leaked any of your organization’s sensitive data, you need to alert your organization, so they can contain the data leak. If you lose access to your online accounts, you will have to contact your service provider to help you reclaim your accounts.
How To Avoid Falling for Online Scams
Online scams are everywhere, so you need to be careful when you are browsing online. You can easily avoid falling victim to online scams by implementing the following.
Use strong and unique passwords
Scammers will use any method to get access to your online accounts and steal your personal information. You need to use strong and unique passwords to protect your online accounts. Strong passwords make it difficult for cybercriminals to easily guess your passwords. Your passwords should be different for each of your accounts to prevent multiple accounts from getting compromised through credential stuffing and other cyber attacks.
Keeping track of all of your strong and unique passwords is a difficult task to do yourself. However, you can use a password manager to manage your passwords. A password manager is a tool that securely stores and manages your login credentials in an encrypted vault. With a password manager, you can easily access your passwords all in one place. A password manager securely protects your passwords from cybercriminals by using strong levels of encryption. It also ensures you are using strong and unique passwords by identifying any weak passwords and prompting you to strengthen them.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires you to provide additional forms of authentication. Enabling MFA requires you to verify your identity with your login credentials and extra forms of identification to gain access to your online accounts. MFA protects your online accounts from scammers who may have stolen your login credentials to ensure they do not gain unauthorized access.
Ignore unsolicited messages with suspicious attachments or links
You should ignore any unsolicited messages from suspicious senders. These unsolicited messages are from scammers trying to deceive you. Do not click on anything attached to the message such as suspicious attachments or links. These attachments or links can infect your device with malware or trick you into revealing your personal information.
You can avoid these scams by looking for signs such as urgent language, spelling and grammatical errors, as well as requests for sensitive information. However, some online scams are getting more advanced with the use of AI, making it harder to tell the difference between legitimate and scam messages. If you are suspicious of a message you receive from someone you know, you should contact them through other means and avoid communicating with them through the unsolicited message.
Be cautious while browsing the internet
You need to be cautious while browsing the internet. Never share any personal information unless necessary. Be wary of too-good-to-be-true offers you find on social media or online marketplaces. Avoid spoofed websites that try to trick you into revealing your personal information or installing malware on your device. You should look for any discrepancies in the URL, more commonly known as the website address, and use a URL checker to check if a website is safe. You can also use antivirus software to check if a website is infected or not.
Scammers will try to send you text messages, emails, phone calls, social media messages and other online forms of communication to make contact with you. You need to block scammers from reaching you. Check the settings of your online accounts or your service provider to see if they can filter out spam messages from your inbox. If this doesn’t work, get a spam-filtering app or service that will block spam from reaching you. These solutions will not stop scammers from sending you messages but will make it easier for you to avoid them.
Scammers will collect information about you on the internet to create targeted online scams. They can gather personal information that you share on any online platforms, particularly your social media accounts. You should avoid oversharing on social media to prevent scammers from exploiting your personal information. You should also always be mindful of what you post and consider keeping your social media accounts private to limit the number of people who can view your profiles.
Protect Yourself From Online Scams
You need to be cautious when you are browsing the internet or else you can easily fall victim to different types of online scams. However, you can help avoid online scams by practicing good cyber hygiene. Good cyber hygiene means enabling MFA, using strong and unique passwords, avoiding sharing personal information and learning how to recognize online scams.
A password manager can help you practice good cyber hygiene. A password manager ensures you are using strong and unique passwords and makes MFA easier to use with your accounts. It can also help avoid certain scams with the autofill feature which prevents you from inputting your credentials if you happen to land on a fake website. A password manager will store the URL of the login page for your online accounts and only autofill your login credentials when you are on the true login page. Your login credentials will not be exposed to fake websites since it does not match the URL stored in the password manager.
Keeper® Password Manager offers the browser extension KeeperFill®, which automatically fills out your login credentials. KeeperFill makes logging in to your accounts easier and protects them from online scams. Sign up for a free trial of Keeper Password Manager to protect yourself from online scams.