Popular Phishing attacks

Common Online Scams To Watch Out For

Internet services and websites are making our life easier by allowing us to accomplish many things from anywhere like paying bills, shopping and online reservations etc. It not only makes life easier for legitimate users but also opens different avenues for scammers, con artists and cyber criminals.

An open door always allows free access.

Criminal minds are using internet for their benefit and making their ways into our private lives, homes and workplace. Internet is becoming a scary place and there is little we can do about it.

New attack methods are evolved in form of malicious software, ransomware, malware and virus each day. Ingenious phishing scams are set up from different regions of the world targeting innocent users and their money. Cyber criminals can go to any extent to accomplish their mission.

Users become vulnerable to a malware attack or phishing scam when they are not vigilant and smart. One should always keep changing their account passwords and to remain skeptical from anything that appears out of the ordinary.

See Also: Google Doc Scam Spreading Fast. Here’s All You Need to Know

We are becoming victim of online scams more often the most common ones today are as follows:

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams try to trick the victim into visiting a fraudulent site that looks valid. Victims think they are logging into real account, but instead all the information they enter on this site is shared with the scammer. This gives complete access to the scammer which can lead to wipe out of account, run up credit limits and much more that we cannot even imagine.

E mail with a fraudulent message:

  1. “There is a problem with your account!”

This one affected me too I was lead to believe that seriously there is something wrong with my account. One fine day when you check your inbox and come across to an email “There is a problem with your account. Click the link to fix the issue.”

Bank online scam

What will you do? For sure, most of us will click on the link in haste to fix the issue without thinking that this might be a trap. Once we do so we are giving out our valuable account information to the scammer thus giving him permission to do whatever they please.

See Also: 5 WhatsApp Scams You Should Never Fall Prey to

Pointers to keep in mind before falling for such messages:

  1. Your bank or any similar service will never ask for your login information.
  2. Check the sender’s e mail address, if it looks suspicious do not proceed.
  3. If you hover the mouse over the link in the e mail you will see a different web address then your bank address.
  4. Open a new browser window and type in the web address of the bank, odds will be that you won’t see any message indicating there is any issue with the account.
  5. Do not proceed any further, mark such e mail as spam and trash it.

Unexpected prize & lottery scam
The lottery and prize scam is one of the most common types of email scams, in which you receive what looks like an official email from a foreign lottery corporation. The subject line offers a congratulation message and include the prize amount to make the mail more lucrative.

gmail scam mail

See Also: Protect Your Inbox From Phishing And Other Email Attacks

Pointers to keep in mind before falling for such messages:

  1. Check the sender’s details, if it is from an individual or is not an official lottery email – then you you’ve got a scam on your hands. For example, michaelsmith007@earthlink.com certainly is not going to be the guy to tell you that you’ve won several million dollars.
  2. If the mail is not addressed to you then it is a phishing email which has been sent to thousands of people, with high hopes of getting access to some financial information.
  3. Search on Google for the lottery to check if it exists or not. You can find enough proofs online to prove that it is fake/ scam.
  4. If the mail not addressed to you but is requesting your full name, date of birth, street address, and telephone number, it is surely a phishing scam. It is designed in such way which will trap you to reveal sensitive personal information. Once you respond you will be hooked and will be a victim.

Also ask yourself: If you did not enter the lottery, how can you win it?

Online survey scam

This is another common email scam that looks innocent, but is extremely devious. If you start receiving a survey request without even subscribing for it, consider it a definitive red flag.

chrome survey scam popup

Why will anyone send you survey, unless you’ve specifically requested for it. Why will anyone pay you to participate in the survey?

survey scams

Using such survey links scammers install malicious software, spyware or malware on your computer. Once this happens, cybercriminals will be able to spy on every move you make on your computer allowing them to have access to your banking details, passwords and personal information.

Nigerian scam

Nigerian scam is one of the oldest and most popular money laundering scam. Many of us have already come across such e mails in our inbox it has multiple variations.

mail scam

The phishing mail starts with an emotional email message, asking you to provide help in retrieving a large sum of money from a bank, or loss of luggage which has left them with nothing. In exchange for your help, they promise to give a large sum of money. It looks genuine so you respond with your willingness to help. In reply to your answer your bank details are asked to transfer the money. You pay the money in hope of huge windfall but nothing comes your up instead money is going out of your account.

job application scam

Of course, this is all just fake to fool you and grab as much money as possible.

Secret shopper scam

This mystery shopper scam has different variations, with only one purpose i.e. to steal your money and information. It is commonly known as work-from-home scam, in this the scammer attempts to dupe user with an email featuring a subject line, earn by working as a mystery shopper. No experience or education is required, you can make up to $200 to $300 a day doing just what you love: shopping!

Instead of being paid to shop as promised in the mail they take your money and have access to your information. The two ways in which you can be conned:

  • They ask to pay upfront via PayPal or a personal check in order to get training materials. You send the money to get the material but it will never arrive.
  • The worst of all is receiving a fraudulent check, where all the details are fake which leads you to pay fraudulent check charges.

A simple rule you should not forget, nothing just falls out of the sky. If you’re ever asked to spend money upfront for materials, it is a scam.

Social Networking Scams

We are thankful to the social networking sites for connecting us with friends, relatives, and to anyone even celebrities all over the world. But this leads to a bigger problem that a wide variety of cybercriminals can also get connected who specialize in online frauds.

social network scam

We bring a short list for you of the most common types of social networking scams:

Hijacked Profile Scam

Recently, I received a message on Facebook that said, “Hey girl, can we meet for a cup of coffee?”

hijack profile scam

This made me cautious as I have no friends who will ask him for coffee in such a manner. I did some investigation and to my surprise go to know that I have received this message from a compromised account.

The first step I took was to delete that person from my friends list. In such cases when you do not know the person personally or the message received seems suspicious, unfriend that person. Do not respond to any messages. Try to contact that particular person then move ahead with any action.

As the person can be the victim of a hacked account.

Quiz Scam

We suggest you to delete all app requests, and never take social networking quizzes. Playing those “Which Twilight Character Are You?” quizzes could make you pay a monthly charge.

which twelight character are you

It starts when you see a quiz on your friends or family member profile and you click on it. It will ask you to enter your cell phone number followed by a pop up messages. Once you are done it will promptly post the results on your profile for all of your friends to see and participate in.

This will attract them and more and more people will participate this but next month you will be shocked to learn that certain fee has been added to your cell phone bill for some suspicious “monthly service.” Remember that you entered your cell phone number to participate in the quiz without thinking. Now you know what was it for.

Dubious photo scam

This is the most common ways followed to obtain login information by con artist to hijack an account. You may see that one of your friend (whose account is compromise), has posted a link on your page with a message such as, “OMG! Is this you?”

This is a trap don’t fall for it, as once you click on the link in panic it will redirect you to Facebook login page. You might not notice it and keyin to your account. This steps of yours will disclose your login information, thus giving cybercriminal access to scam your friends.

If you see any message like this or a suspicious link, simply delete it and warn your friends that there  account has been hacked.

Help to save baby scam

This one is the sick of all, it works like: A friend shares/ posts a photograph of an ill baby or young child with a caption that reads, Little Jamie has cancer. Donate $1 to help him, to contribute click this link. Every penny is worth.

baby scam

You fall for it and click on the link to help the poor baby without realizing that the money isn’t going to help the instead it’s going straight to a con artist.

Also, remember that not only donating money will give money to scammer but sharing the photo also makes him earn some amount may be $0.05. This is an attempt to phish for personal information.

Common Scams

Greeting Card Scams

Greeting card scams hits you when you click on the link in the card that pretends to be from a friend or family member. Clicking the link will lead you to download trojans and other malicious software onto the systems.

greetings card scam

The malware may be an annoying program that will launch pop up ads on your screen and will not allow you to work.

Bank Loan or Credit Card Scam

If you are in need of money and suddenly an pre approved loan is offered, what will you do? Surely, you will fall for it without thinking if it’s for real or not.

credit card scam on mail

We suggest you to not fall for such messages, think before proceeding, how can bank offer you loan without knowing your financial situation. Most people do not fall for such traps but some do end up in giving processing fee to the scammers.

Travel scams

Usually your mailbox starts receiving these spam mails in the hot summer months or before Christmas or New Year.  You receive an email with an amazing offer to travel to an exotic destination. These offers are time limited and will cost you more than what they offer. You need to pay an initial amount to avail the offer otherwise they just ask you to pay so that they can arrange things.

travel scam

In such cases when you receive such mails please study the offer well enough before proceeding. Also we suggest you to go with a trustworthy, well know travel agency.

Conclusion

Online scams are increasing at a fast pace and they are developed by using sophisticated means to deceive users. It is difficult to differentiate between genuine and hoax emails. However, we can avoid being victimized by following a few things:

  1. Do not entertain unwanted e mails.
  2. Don’t believe in mails promising lottery money or prizes.
  3. Question requests for donations, do not donate by clicking on any link. Give money to legitimate charities.
  4. Never share personal or financial information over the e mail.
  5. Always verify the link by hovering on the link or opening it in a new tab.
  6. Watch out for shortened links.
  7. Be wary of threats and urgent deadlines
  8. Browse securely with HTTPs

Preeti Seth

Preeti is a technical writer with Systweak. She covers new technology and troubleshooting. She loves gadgets and is an avid reader. In her free time, she likes to travel and explore new places solo.

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