Internet Scams; What To Watch Out For

The internet has been around for about 25 years, and it's been a go to recourse. We use it at our ease and it allows us to find almost find any information we want to know on any topic very easily. We can communicate with people in ways never before possible, things are very instant, and you can purchase things off the internet. It's a helpful tool if you know how to use it and know how to navigate it and know what to watch out for.

That brings up a good point. Everything on the internet is so diverse, complicated and seemingly never ending. How do you know you're really communicating with the person you think you're talking to? How do you know something, such as a website, looks fishy or untrustworthy? How do you know that the website your giving your credit card number to won't turn around and give it to another website? How do you know if someone is watching your internet activities? How can you tell if something is just an internet scam or the real deal?

Internet scams are constantly evolving. The top places you'll find internet scams are when you're shopping online, checking your emails, and on a social media. Here are the top 4 internet scams used by cyber criminals:

1) Phishing Scam: A scam where a fraud email message is sent, and it claims to be from a legitimate company or enterprise. They direct you to a weird website, and request that you enter important information, like your credit card number, security number, name, etc.

2)  419 (Nigerian Scam): Known as the 419, and nicknamed the Nigerian Scam, this scam plays with human emotions. There are other versions of it, but this is the idea: Someone sends you an email, and asks for a lot of money. It could claim to be from an important person, or claim to be from a poor country. They may also claim a family member tragically died, or something like that to spice the email up. The point is that they'll ask you for your trust and ask for your money. Traces of this scam go back to the 19th century France, when people would write letters of distress, asking for a large amount of money from a richer person.

3) Lottery Scam: This scam is pretty self explanatory. You will receive an email, and it'll say you've won a lottery. All you have to do to collect your large sum is pay some fees and send some important information to a supposedly important address. We get caught up in the idea of never having to work again and what we'll buy with all the money. By the time we realize it's a scam, it's too late. You probably won't get the money back.

4) Guaranteed credit card or bank card Scams: This scam involves getting a to good to be true deal on a loan or credit card by a "Bank". All you have to do to get the amazing deal is pay a fee. People fall for this, because they may be in a desperate situation and may need money badly. If it seems to god to be true, then it probably is.

4 million people were scammed worldwide in 2013. Of those scams...

38% were over the phone.

32% were through visits to a web site.

18% were letter or fax scams.

12% were through emails.

Here are some tips with dealing with scams:

1) If a deal sounds too good to be true, then it more than likely is. Use caution.

2) Don't send out personal information to people or companies you don't know unless you trust them

3) If you're buying online, make sure the site is not suspicious

4) Use caution when job ads pop u[p and ask for money in advance

5) If you find that you've fallen for a scam, don't keep it to yourself. Find help as soon as you can

Here is a video with more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDioXDrgVsE

This is Davin's story story from www.Scamwatch.gov. It is real and actually happened:

"Davin received a private message on Facebook from the ‘Facebook Freedom Lottery’ claiming he and 20 other winners could claim various amounts up to $150 000. At first he didn’t believe it. Businesses don’t give money away out of the blue and to win in a lottery you need to buy a ticket.

However, moments later his cousin who he hadn’t spoken to in some time sent him a Facebook message about the winnings. His cousin claimed that he had also won and noticed Davin’s name on the list of winners. He claimed he had already received his winnings after going through a relatively easy process.

Always check whether offers are legitimate, even those passed on from people you know.

Trusting his cousin, Davin began the process for accepting the prize money which required him to first pay a small upfront fee of $250. Once this was paid, he was to receive the money into his nominated bank account for which he provided details. The next day he was informed that since the prize money was sitting in a bank in America, he would have to pay an ‘international transfer fee’ which could not be subtracted from the winnings for some complex legal reason.

Davin reasoned that since his cousin had managed to receive the money, then he must have gone through the same process and so he would also pay this additional fee.

Do not send any money or give any payment details to claim a prize or lottery winnings.

Over the next two weeks, Davin paid five more fees, each time believing it would be the last. Eventually, in desperation, he spoke to his cousin and asked how many fees he paid before he received his winnings. Davin’s cousin had no idea what he was talking about and told him that he had only just regained control of his Facebook account after it had been hacked.

It then became clear to Davin that he had been scammed. There never was any prize money and the Facebook message was part of the scam. By this time, Davin had already sent $1500 and handed over a wealth of personal information to scammers (www.Scamwatch.gov)."

In this story, the scammers used money and a cousin that Davin trusted to bait him. Davin at first didn't believe that he won, but once he heard that his cousin won, he was fully convinced that he was 1 of 20 that won the Facebook lottery. It's a good lesson for everyone. Scammers will do anything to get their hands on money, even if it means toying with people's emotions, or in this case, keep making up lies. Davin lost $1,500 that he will never get back. Hopefully, you've gained some knowledge about internet scams, have an idea of what they look like, their affects, and what to do if you're scammed

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