In this, the digital age, you have instant access to just about anything you may want or need, from shopping, to banking, and connecting with friends across the world. Unfortunately, this convenience comes at a cost, since instant access to everything means people with bad intentions can easily find and target you for their own gain. Online scams are becoming prevalent, but even with this knowledge, people are being taken advantage of.
Catfishing scams are so common, there are even television shows devoted to debunking these scammers. If you think that gorgeous person contacting you via social media may be too good to be true, they probably are—catfishers prey on people longing for a connection, exploiting the relationship once it’s established, ultimately scamming victims out of hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Another relatively common scam to watch out for is the phishing scam. Before opening emails from your bank or any other secure establishment, make sure the email is in fact from the credible source. All too often, phishers send emails containing links that, once clicked on, take you to a site that appears to be credible, but is just a façade with the intention of gathering your information to clean out your bank accounts or steal your identity.
Be leery of any emails you receive requesting donations—scammers like to prey on the good intentions of people. Before donating to any type of relief fund or account, do your research and make sure you are in fact donating to a legitimate cause. With the introduction of donation sites like GoFundMe, anyone can set up an account and claim they’re raising money for a good cause, when in reality, they’re planning to pocket the money themselves.
The Virus Warning Scam
You receive an email or pop-up box on your computer saying your computer may be infected with a virus, and the only way to get rid of it is to purchase a specific type of anti-virus protection. This scam can work one of two ways—either you pay a large amount for a product you don’t need, or you actually download malware or a virus by clicking on the link to purchase the product. Either way, the scammers win, and you lose.
The Hitman Email
Although not as widely known, the hitman scam is one to be aware of. An email shows up in our inbox from a supposed hitman who’s been paid to kill you. The only way you can stop him or her? Pay them a lump sum or die. While you’re probably less likely to encounter this scam, if you do receive one of these emails, you won’t need to feel like your worst nightmare is coming true–contact the police immediately.
With all of the benefits the internet has to offer, it’s also made it easier than ever for scammers to reach you. Be aware of what’s out there, and make sure you can differentiate between a true scam, and something being touted as one, such as the supposed “ACN scam,” a business opportunity that’s being misunderstood as a pyramid scheme. When in doubt, do your research, and you’re likely to uncover the truth and avoid being scammed.