Uncovering the Different Types of Scams and How to Protect Yourself Online

What are online scams?

Online scam is a fraudulent or deceitful scheme or activity designed to cheat or trick people out of their money or personal information. It is a dishonest or illegal way of tricking people into giving away their money or valuable information.

The word “scam” relates to fraud, a dishonest scheme with the intention to deceive and take money or other goods from an innocent victim. The individual who commits the scam is known as a “swindler “, “scammer”, or “crook”. They tend to rely on the most common types of online scams in their business – which you’ll be learning all about today.

Scam definition

A scam is a fraudulent or deceitful scheme or activity, typically one that involves obtaining money or other goods through false pretenses or promises.

online scams

Losing money or something that you value as a result of a scam can be devastating. It is something that affects our emotions and it is personal. Someone has played us and that feeling is something that can hunt us for a long time. Being scammed can affect our relationships and trust in others. It may also create feelings of guilt, self-blame, shame and embarrassment because the scammer managed to trick us.

In the world of technology, we are faced with a big challenge because our cyber world is plagued with scammers that are seeking ways to deceive us, and play on our emotions. They send scam emails and text messages, and use fake profiles to carry out their many online scams, such as credit card fraud.

The good news is that, just like I recognized the scammers’ techniques, you can, too! I’m going to show you how to identify scammers online, and start being in charge of your cyber safety.

What are the most common types of online scams?

1. Romance Scams

A romance scam, also known as a dating scam or catfishing, is a type of online scam where a scammer pretends to be a romantic partner in order to gain the trust and affection of their victim. They often use fake identities, photos, and stories to lure in their victims, and then use the relationship to scam them out of money, personal information, or other valuable items. The intention of the scam is to obtain your money, get into your life savings, your bank account information, convince you to send gift cards to help family members or send a wire transfer, all through a false promise, and sadly, possibly the worst scam of all is the promise of true love.

2. Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams

Cybermonsters will request a payment from you, claiming that you won the lottery, a fake or fictitious prize, or gifts. 
You could receive this type of scam via phishing emails, phone scams or in your snail mail. We may fall for these if we want to feel special. Cybermonsters take advantage of our optimism and the feeling we are lucky and that we have won! Their intention is to steal your money. What’s worse, you could become an identity theft victim like I have. What you want to keep in mind is this: If something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

3. Online shopping scams

Cybermonsters pretend to be legit sellers even to the point of building a fake website or even using genuine websites for placing ads to their scam, which is known as malvertising
Social media platforms are filled with fake online stores. Scammers would ask you to send money orders, pre-loaded cards, wire transfers, or a reloadable card.

4. Banking or investment scams

Many of these scams happen frequently because Cryptocurrency is getting popular and there is enthusiasm and buzz around it. It attracts cyber criminals that will try to lure victims to amazing opportunities for investing or mining cryptocurrencies. Scammers may mislead you to believe that these scams are sponsored by celebrities or known public figures.

5. Phishing scams

Many potential scams live in our email inbox as phishing:

  • Emails related to unemployment benefits, medical expenses, vaccines, or finances.
  • Someone pretending to be your credit card company, employer, bank or any other financial institution
  • Asking you to change your password and account information.

For obtaining your sensitive information all are these sent to you. And cause damage to your family, your business or yourself.

scams

6. Nigerian scams

Nigerian scams, also known as “419 scams,” are a type of fraud that originated in Nigeria. They are typically carried out through email, phone calls, or social media. The scammer typically poses as a wealthy or prominent individual, such as a government official or business executive, and offers the victim a large sum of money in exchange for their help in transferring funds out of the country. The scammer then asks the victim to pay various fees or taxes to facilitate the transfer, and once the victim has paid these fees, the scammer disappears with the victim’s money. These scams can be very sophisticated and convincing, and they can cause significant financial harm to the victim.

7. Tech support scams

Tech support scams are a type of fraud where scammers impersonate technical support representatives from reputable companies in order to gain access to a person’s computer or personal information. They may use a variety of tactics, such as cold-calling or pop-up messages, to convince the victim that their computer is infected with a virus or malware and that they need to pay for technical support to fix the problem. In reality, the scammers are the ones who have caused the problem, and the so-called “tech support” they provide is either ineffective or harmful. It is important to be aware of these scams and not to provide personal information or payment to unsolicited callers claiming to be technical support representatives.

8. Work from home scams

Work from home scams are fraudulent schemes that offer individuals the opportunity to earn money from home, typically through a variety of employment or business opportunities. However, these opportunities often require individuals to pay an upfront fee or invest in a certain product, and they may not be legitimate. The scammers may also ask for personal information such as social security numbers or bank account details. It is important to be cautious of any work from home opportunities that seem too good to be true and to research the company or opportunity before investing any money or personal information.

9. Credit card scams

A credit card scam is a type of fraud in which a scammer obtains credit card information from a victim and uses it to make unauthorized purchases or to steal money from the victim’s account. This can happen in a variety of ways, such as through phishing emails, skimming devices placed on credit card readers, or by convincing the victim to give their credit card information over the phone or online. These scams can cause financial losses and damage to the victim’s credit score. It is important to be cautious when giving out credit card information and to monitor bank and credit card statements regularly to detect any fraudulent activity.

10. Pyramid schemes Scams

A pyramid scheme is a type of scam in which participants are promised returns based on the number of people they recruit into the scheme, rather than on any actual investments or sales of goods or services. The scheme relies on the constant recruitment of new members to bring in money, and as the scheme grows, the returns promised to early investors come from the investments of newer members, rather than from any legitimate business activities. Eventually, the scheme collapses when there are not enough new members to support the returns promised to earlier investors, and many people lose their money.

11. Fake job scams

Fake job scams are a type of online scam where fraudsters advertise fake job opportunities on job search websites or through unsolicited emails. These fake job offers may require the victim to pay a fee in order to apply, or to provide personal information such as their social security number or bank account information. The scammer may also ask the victim to perform a task, such as wiring money to a “client” or “employer,” as part of the supposed job process. Once the scammer has the victim’s money or personal information, they disappear and the victim is left with no job and no way to recoup their losses.

What can we do to prevent and recognize scammers?

I avoided the public transportation scammers in a simple way: I ignored them!
I invite you to do the same in your cyber world. 
Realizing you are in charge of your cyber safety is powerful and changes everything! Now that you know the most common types of scams and you can avoid them much more easily.
You can ignore or best send unwanted emails to your Spam folder, silence unknown phone calls, ignore friend requests in social media from people you don’t know, get into the donotcall.gov so you stop receiving telemarketing calls use meaningful passwords and activate two-factor authentication, as much as possible.

Take action NOW to prevent becoming a victim

Today, select five emails that you aren’t waiting for or that may have a suspicious activity. Or ask you to take an immediate action, mark them as Spam. The more you do this, the less your email platform will show you these types of emails. 

What other tips are you incorporating to get rid of the spammers? Share with us below!

Need more help? Get the help from cyber safety expert Contact us now.

People also Ask

1. What is an online scam?

An online scam is a fraudulent scheme that is conducted over the internet, typically through email, social media, or websites. Scammers may attempt to steal personal information, money, or both by disguising themselves as a trustworthy source. These scams can take many forms, including phishing, pyramid schemes, and counterfeit goods sales.

2. How can I recognize an online scam?

Recognizing an online scam can be difficult, but there are some common red flags to look out for. These can include unsolicited requests for personal information, pressure to act quickly, and requests for money or payment upfront. Additionally, be wary of offers that seem too good to be true, as well as suspicious email or website addresses.

3. How can I protect myself from online scams?

  • Be skeptical of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or text messages, even if they appear to be from a legitimate source.
  • Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious sources.
  • Use anti-virus software and a firewall on your computer and keep them updated.
  • Be wary of online offers that seem too good to be true.
  • Do not provide personal information, such as your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account information, to anyone online.
  • Be careful when sharing personal information on social media, as scammers can use it to impersonate you or steal your identity.
  • Use a credit monitoring service or check your credit reports regularly to detect any unauthorized activity.
  • If you suspect you’ve been scammed, report it to the authorities immediately

4. What should I do if I suspect I’m a victim of an online scam?

If you suspect that you are a victim of an online scam, you should take immediate action to protect yourself. Some steps you can take include:

  • Contacting your bank or financial institution to report any unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity.
  • Filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or other relevant government agency.
  • Changing any passwords or PINs that you may have shared with the scammer.
  • Being careful of giving personal information or money to any unsolicited phone calls or emails.
  • Researching the company or individual in question to see if other people have reported similar scams.
  • Seeking advice from a trusted legal or financial professional.
  • Reporting the scam to the website or platform where you were contacted by the scammer, if applicable.

5. How can I report an online scam?

To report an online scam, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre in Canada. You can also report the scam to the website or platform where the scam occurred, such as a social media site or online marketplace. Additionally, you can contact your bank or financial institution if you have given out any financial information. It is important to report scams to help prevent others from falling victim and to assist law enforcement in their investigations.

6. What should I be cautious of when shopping online to avoid scams?

When shopping online, it is important to be cautious of the following things in order to avoid scams:

  1. Unfamiliar websites or sellers: Only shop from reputable websites or sellers that you are familiar with.
  2. Too-good-to-be-true deals: Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, as they may be scams.
  3. Requests for personal information: Avoid providing personal information such as your Social Security number or credit card information to unfamiliar websites or sellers.
  4. Pressure to act quickly: Scammers may try to pressure you into making a quick decision, so take your time and make sure you are comfortable with the purchase before making a decision.
  5. Requests for payment via wire transfer or gift cards: Legitimate businesses will typically not ask for payment in this form, so be suspicious if this is requested.
  6. Unsecured payment page: Make sure the payment page is secure, it should start with “https”
  7. Check reviews and ratings of the seller and the website, if possible.

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Live Happily Ever Cyber!

Sandra Estok, CEO and Founder of Way2Protect | Happily Ever Cyber!

Sandra Estok

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