5 Online Scams to Look out for…
While scams have always existed throughout history, it seems that the internet has made it far, far easier to rip people off of their hard-earned cash. In fact, it seems to be so easy that the people who you often think would not be the victim of a scam are having money ripped out of their bank accounts.
While it is going to be nigh on impossible for us to list every scam that exists online, we do want to highlight five of the ones that you will encounter the most. In many of these cases, you may not actually realize that you are being scammed until it is far too late. There are probably a lot of people out there who fall for them.
Free Trial Offers
We were a little bit reluctant to list this in our list of top 5 online scams, mostly because there are a lot of legitimate free trial offers out there. However, we are not talking about those on this page. Instead, we are talking about free trial offers which are genuine scams. So, you can ignore this section if you are the type of person who only takes advantage of free trial offers on reputable sites like Amazon (e.g., Amazon Prime) or Spotify Premium. This is because these sites are going to make it clear that there is a cost the second that your trial ends.
What we are talking about are those free trials which do not make it clear that you are going to be charged. Most people don’t seem to realize that they are handing their credit card details over to a company, and this is essentially giving the company permission to use them.
Most of these ‘scams’ will get you to pay nothing more than shipping and handling. However, once you start to dive into the terms and conditions of the offer, you will find that pretty soon you are going to be charged a whole lot more than that. In many cases, you are going to need to read deep into the terms and conditions too as it is so well hidden.
We have seen some free trial scams which rope you into paying a subscription cost for the rest of your life. Now, don’t get us wrong, this is not something that is actually going to happen unless you fail to spot that the money is coming out of your account. Once you have spotted that you have been scammed, then your bank is going to help you to stop payments leaving your account.
As we said; there are legitimate free trial offers out there. Perhaps the only way in which you can avoid this type of scam is by reading through every term and condition (if they do not make it clear what future charges are). If there seems to be no easy way to cancel your free trial offer, then give the site a skip too.
Again, this type of scam can also be legitimate. This is probably why so many people end up getting roped into the scam. Most people, including the most intelligent people out there, find it completely infeasible that they are going to be parted with their hard-earned cash.
When you are walking around, you may see several public Wi-Fi hotspots. Now, most of these are going to be legitimate. If you connect to them, then you are going to run into any issues. Others, not quite so much. These Wi-Fi hotspots have been set up in such a way that if you connect to them, the hacker running the hotspot will have full access to your computer. This means that they could easily walk away with some of your bank details or other personal information.
You will likely find these scam hotspots will happen in areas where people are going to be connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots a lot. The most common will be at airports and the like.
For the most part, avoiding these scams should be easy. You will want to ensure that you do not connect to a single network which is ‘unknown’. So, this means only connecting to networks that you know are genuine. Make sure that you check the details of the network too. One way in which this scam works is by the person making small changes to the name of the network.
If you are going to connect to a public Wi-Fi network, and we understand there are cases why you would need to connect to a network like this, then you will want to make sure that you do not put any card details into the network. Don’t do any online shopping or anything like that. If the network charges for access, then try to get hold of a Mastercard Gift Card that you can use instead. This will ensure that they do not end up emptying your bank account of all its funds…which is never going to be a good thing!
Your computer has been infected pop-up!
No matter who you are, we can guarantee that this is something which is going to pop up for you eventually. The warning will vary from scam to scam. Some will tell you that your computer has been infected with a virus, and others may tell you that you have downloaded illegal content and the police have been informed.
In nearly every single case, you will be given a telephone number to call to deal with the problem. Do not, under any circumstances, call this number. Even if it says the number belongs to Microsoft, it does not (a very common scam). This scam works by people phoning up the number and handing over their card details for a ‘removal service’. If that isn’t enough, the person on the phone will ask you to click a specific link on the scam, which will download malicious software onto your computer. This means that not only are you going to be out of pocket because you have handed over your financial details, but you are also going to have a bit of software on your computer which is going to steal even more information from you.
Perhaps the best way to deal with this type of scam is to have ‘up to date’ malware prevention software on your computer. If you can, then you will also want to try to download a pop-up blocker for your web browser. This should help you to deal with the majority of issues.
There will be some that will pop up no matter what you do. If you can, close down the browser as quickly as possible. This will stop any malicious software being installed onto your computer. If you can’t do that, then you will want to, instead, press CTRL+ALT+DEL on your computer and hit the task manager button. Find your web browser on that list, right click it and click ‘close browser’.
Once the pop-up has been closed, you need to run an anti-virus bit of software on your computer. Make sure that this is ‘up to date’. It should deal with most of the issues for you.
Social Media Scams
We suppose that these are scams which tie ‘neatly’ into each other. With this scam, a link will be shared. It may say that you have won something for free and you need to click the link in order to claim your prize. Clicking this link will, in many cases, cause your social media to be ‘hijacked’ which shares the link even more. In other cases, it will hijack your email account.
Now, to be perfectly honest with you, this is hardly the most ‘dangerous’ scam in the world. In many cases, the link is not going to ask you to hand over your card details or anything, and it probably will not install any malware on your computer. It is just a ridiculously annoying ‘scam’.
The best thing you can do is to try to avoid clicking any links on social media websites unless you know that the company that is sharing the link is a legitimate company. If somebody tells you that you have won a prize, then the chances are that you haven’t actually won a prize at all…so don’t bother clicking that link either.
If you find that your social media account is sharing links and posts without your permission, or you find that your email account is sending out emails without your permission, then it is vital that you change your password as soon as you possibly can. This should deal with the bulk of the issues, which means you have successfully dealt with the scam.
In some cases, you may find that malware is downloaded onto your computer. This will not only ‘hijack’ your system to cause it to do malicious activities, but malware may also end up stealing financial information from you. If you believe you have clicked one of these malicious links, then it is important that you make sure that you run a malware scan on your computer. You will also want to change your passwords and keep an eye on your bank accounts for a short while to know that you are not being scammed out of your money.
Sadly, if your computer has shared links via social media or email, there is not a whole lot that you can do. If people have clicked those links, then they will have been infected too. You may want to give them a little bit of a ‘heads up’ about it.
Dating Site Scams
We are going to call this the ‘dating site scam’, although this scam could easily take place on social media, or even through email. These scams are becoming a whole lot more sophisticated too, which makes them terribly difficult to spot.
With this scam, you will be on a dating site or other form of social media. You then start to talk to somebody, and you really hit it off. The person may even share photos or call you on the phone to prove they are real. However, eventually, you will find that the person has issues in their life and they need you to give them some money to help them out.
The thing with this scam is that it is often for the ‘long haul’. You may be talking to somebody for weeks before they ask you for any cash. This means that, by that point, you will have built up such a rapport with the person that you fail to spot that it is a scam. These people are masters at their art. It is the oldest confidence trick in the book.
Because this scam does involve you trusting people, it is going to be an incredibly difficult scam to spot. Perhaps the best ‘advice’ we can give you is to trust nobody on the internet. It does not matter how much somebody tries to prove to you that they are real online, or even shows a ton of interest in you; there is absolutely no situation where you should trust them until you have met them in real life. If somebody asks you for money through social media and you have never met that person before, then you really do need to make sure that you do not give them any cash. If they ask, then report them on the dating site. They will be dealt with.
One ‘variant’ of this scam is a person hacking one of your friend’s accounts and asking for money that way. This is a very, very difficult scam to spot. Perhaps the best way to get around this is to call up your friend on the telephone. Find out if it is really them asking. If it is not, then tell your friend to change their password as soon as they possibly can. This is the only real way to deal with that type of online scam.