Internet scams are among the 7 most common scams that cheat people out of their money. When this happens, you don’t only lose out on the money that the scam costs you; you also lose some sense of security about your online activities. Protect yourself to avoid becoming a victim.
There are dozens of different types of Internet scams that you have to watch out for. These are the five biggest ones to avoid:
1. Advance Fee Scams. In this scam, you are asked to pay a fee in advance before you can obtain a product or service. This may happen if you try to order a service online from an illegitimate site. It may also happen in the format of first receiving an email saying that you have won money but requesting that you send a fee for the taxes in advance of receiving the money.
2. Checks for Overpayment. This scam is the opposite of the advance fee scam. In this case, you have posted something online for rent or sale. The person wants to send you a check for an amount that is more than the amount that you requested. They want you to send the difference back to them. You can tell that this is sketchy but what exactly is going on? The person is scamming you out of the money that you send to them because their check is going to bounce and you’re not going to get anything from them. You may also end up having to pay bounced check fees.
3. Emails from the federal government or your bank. One of the biggest online phishing scams involves requesting your personal information by posing as the IRS or a legitimate bank. If you receive an email from these types of places asking for personal information, assume that someone is trying to steal your identity. The IRS wouldn’t send out unsolicited emails trying to contact you. Always call the government organization or your bank. Don’t use a number that is supplied in the email. Look it up in your own personal records instead.
4. Money requests from your online friends. What would you do if you were to receive an email or social networking message from a friend saying that they were in an emergency and needed some cash? Many people don’t think twice before sending them the money online. Watch out, though. It’s increasingly common for Internet scammers to use these methods to convince you to send money to them. You won’t know about it until you ask your friend later about how that emergency played out and you get a dumbfounded look in response.
5. Unbelievably low rents. You definitely want to use common sense when using the Internet to find a place to rent. One Internet scam involves people who copy real ads of rental properties but advertise them at insanely low rent prices. These people may ask for your financial information to see if you qualify to rent the place. They may even ask for an upfront deposit to hold the property for you. Then they steal your money and you don’t get a place to rent because the legitimate owner wasn’t the one renting it to you.
As you can see, these are all Internet scams that can be avoided if you use common sense and safety precautions in your online interactions. Don’t ever send out personal information online. Ignore emails requesting any type of money from you until you’ve verified the request with a legitimate agency or individual. And finally, trust your gut instinct. If an online deal sounds too good to be true then it almost always is.
What other internet scams are you aware of? How do you protect yourself from becoming a victim of internet fraud?