Scams have been a part of human history since the Middle Ages, but their methods for getting people to pay up just keep on getting more and more sophisticated. As we become more reliant on technology, scammers are finding newer (and newer) ways to exploit our vulnerabilities. Whether it’s a phishing email, a fake website, or a text message from a ” friend” in need, there are many ways to fall victim to a scam.
The good news is that there are also many ways to protect yourself. Familiarizing yourself with the most common types of scams can help you avoid them and knowing what to do if you do get scammed can help you get your money back!
So don’t be a victim – stay informed and stay safe!
There are many different types of scams around today with criminals trying literally every trick in the book to try and steal money from unsuspecting victims. Some of the most common types of scams include:
Email invoice scams: This is a type of scam where the perpetrator sends an email purporting to be from a legitimate company, asking the recipient to click on a link to view an invoice. The link leads to a malicious website that may install malware on the victim’s computer or phish for personal information. This type of scam is particularly common during tax season when scammers impersonate well-known companies like TurboTax and H&R Block to trick people into giving up their personal financial information.
Online shopping scams: This scam is a fraudulent scheme that takes place on the internet, typically involving the use of a counterfeit or stolen credit card to make purchases. Scammers may also set up fake websites that resemble legitimate online retailers to trick shoppers into supplying personal and financial information.
Phishing scams: These scams involve criminals sending out emails or text messages that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or service provider. The message will usually contain a link that takes the victim to a fake website where they are asked to enter personal or financial information.
Identity theft: This type of scam occurs when someone obtains your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, or bank account number, without your permission and then uses it to commit fraud.
Internet auction scams: In this type of scam, the victim is lured into bidding on an item in an online auction. Once the victim has won the auction, they are then asked to pay for the item with a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The item never arrives, and the victim is left out of pocket.
Lottery and sweepstakes scams: In these scams, victims receive letters or emails informing them that they have won a large sum of money in a sweepstakes or lottery. They are then asked to pay a fee to claim their prize. Of course, there is no prize and the victim ends up losing their money.
In this article, we will focus on the last three scams mentioned above since these scams are particularly rampant right now.
Let’s take a look, in-depth:
As the number of people shopping online increases, so do the opportunities for scammers. There are a few things to watch out for when shopping online, to avoid becoming a victim of an online scam.
Often, fake websites are set up to look like legitimate online retailers. These sites might even be cheeky enough to go as far as using the branding and logo of a reputed company. Many of these websites offer luxury items such as expensive jewelry, electronics at discount prices, and even popular brands of clothing. One of two things can happen here – either you’ll never receive the item or, you’ll receive a fake version of it.
Recently, a newer version of online shopping scams involves the use of social media platforms to set up fake online stores. They open the store for a very limited amount of time. Then, once they’ve made a quick buck, the store vanishes into thin air. They also use social media to advertise their fake website, so, just because you see something on social media, don’t assume it’s legit!
What to look out for:
Lottery and sweepstakes scams are some of the most common types of scams out there. They often come in the form of an email or letter telling you that you’ve won a big prize, but to collect it, you need to pay a fee or provide your personal information.
“In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 148,000 reports of fraud involving prizes, sweepstakes and, lotteries, up 27 percent from the year before. Victims collectively lost $255 million.”
These scams can be hard to spot because they often look legitimate. But there are some red flags you can watch out for:
What to look out for
If you get an email or letter claiming you’ve won a contest or lottery, do some research before taking any action. Check the Better Business Bureau’s website for complaints about the company and do a web search for reviews. You can also contact the attorney general’s office in your state to see if there have been any complaints filed.
If you think you might have been scammed, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
Many scams that take place over email, and invoice scams are some of the most common. In these scams, criminals will send an email that appears to be from a legitimate company or organization, asking the recipient to click on a link to view an invoice. Once the link is clicked, the victim is taken to a fake website where their personal and financial information can be stolen.
“The 12 Billion Dollar Scam. That’s how much money the FBI estimates has been stolen in the past five years due to phishing and BEC.”
These scams are often very difficult to spot, as the emails can look very real. However, there are some things you can look for that may help you identify a scam:
What to look out for
When it comes to avoiding scams, knowledge is power. The more you know about how scams work, the easier it is to protect yourself. Here are some tips to help you avoid being scammed:
Cybercriminals as we have mentioned, are smart. Seriously smart. Today, they are using everything they’ve learned from attacking enterprises and are employing those skills to attack the consumer. Unfortunately, most consumers are completely unaware that they are likely to be a target in many scenarios.
Consumer Cyber Security and Privacy Stats in Numbers
|~1M user connections were encrypted||3% of all surfed websites to be malicious Google|
|~200,000 GB of user data was encrypted|
With so many scams out there, it’s important to be aware of the ones that are most likely to target consumers. By staying informed and being vigilant, you can protect yourself and your family from becoming victims of these scams. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of by scammers — stay one step ahead of them by knowing what they’re up to.
It’s our collective duty, as consumers, to help win the war against consumer cybercrimes by staying up to date on what’s happening and making it our business to gain the tools to prevent those scams, before they take off globally, and millions are lost.
That’s why we’ve taken it upon ourselves as experts in the cyber security field to keep you, our readers, in the know of every scam as it happens, so that together, we can help slay the cyber scammer and save a whole lot of green, in the process.
Stay tuned and watch this space for more vital info on consumer cyber scams!
 BEC stands for Business Email Compromise