Online scams or ‘Internet' scams have been a problem ever since the beginning of the internet, but why are so many people still falling victim and how can you avoid them?
We've put together this handy guide to let you know about the most common online scams giving you the knowledge to avoid them.
There have always been people willing to trick others into getting their money, information, and alike, and while it is not quite as simple as it was in the past, scams have become more elaborate meaning it's quite easy to be caught out.
After all these years spent online, you might think that everyone knows about scams and that there is no way anyone can get fooled anymore.
But, it still happens, and today, we will explore five reasons why that might be – giving you the tools to avoid being the next victim.
1) Online scams that bombard you with information
Back in the early days, when the internet was new, people would fall for scams because they would not expect them.
Decent people would go online in the hopes of learning something new, finding something fun to do, or whiling away some time.
The last thing they expected was to be tricked by a scammer or a hacker, and you could forgive them for that. Today, however, we know that scammers are out there but we don't pay enough attention to them.
This is because the internet bombards you with information. Ads, offers to buy this and that, status updates, emails from hundreds of services, and more.
Sooner or later, you might go to check your email and open something automatically, without thinking if you should do so.
And, guess what – the email comes with malware, and with one click, your device is infected.
This is one of the most common ways hackers can infect you, so it's critical you are always aware and switched on.
2) Lack of awareness
Of course, there are always newcomers to the internet, such as kids, people from countries that are just now getting internet coverage, or those who were trying to resist technology and then just gave in for some reason.
What they all have in common is a lack of experience that most of us already share.
After years, or even decades spent online, we have seen everything, including the Nigerian prince who needs you to send him a little cash to release the millions awaiting you.
However, those with less internet experience may still fall for traps that might seem obvious to you.
Further, a lot of people are not aware of how to protect themselves adequately. They don't know what kind of dangers there are, or that they even need an anti-virus or anti-malware.
The lack of awareness leads to a lack of protection, which is how and why people get scammed.
If you know someone new to the internet, perhaps an older relative now is the time to give them a little awareness of the dangers that lurk.
3) Sharing private information
Another big problem with modern internet culture is the trend to share far too much personal information with strangers.
People tend to use social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and numerous others, as their diaries and journals. All the time, there are photos of people in their homes, with their loved ones, even with children.
Not to mention expressing thoughts, commenting on various things, and alike.
All of this, combined with information such as our towns, phone numbers, workplaces, etc. allows scammers to collect tremendous amounts of data. They explore our accounts and get to know us through what we share.
Posting your holiday photos is great and all but realistically who has 1000+ friends. Consider not everyone on your “friend” list may be an actual friend.
4) The issue with millennials
Then, there are millennials, who are as susceptible to scams as much as everyone else put together, if not more, even though that they believe themselves invincible.
Millennials got the internet just at the right time during their lives for them to understand how it works, which tends to make them feel overly confident.
Those of the younger age have never known a world pre-internet.
They are also the generations that make the most online purchases and share the most personal data, as explained earlier.
Scammers and hackers thrive on the information dropped by millennials, who are not at all suspicious when it comes to entering their credit card details, or other personal information. They believe they would recognise a scam if they saw one, which is not always the case.
Being younger may make you more tech-savvy but remembering that scams span all ages should ensure you keep your eye on the ball when using the internet.
5) Even jobs could be scams
With the internet slowly but surely ‘growing up', there are more and more options that we get when it comes to what we can do online.
It used to be that you can only participate in forums dedicated to various niches, and that would pretty much be it. Then, social media came to be, with websites like MySpace, and later on – Facebook, Twitter, and the rest.
Online shops and stores emerged, streaming websites followed, gaming became an online thing, and over a few decades – you can now do pretty much anything on the internet. Order food, communicate with anyone, anywhere, listen to audiobooks, and even find a job.
Scams exist in all of these areas, especially when it comes to jobs.
Some estimates claim that there are 60-70 scams for every legitimate job offer online. You may be willing to earn your money fair and square, but someone else might just be aiming to use you and then disappear when it's time to pay.
Online jobs may be what we are moving towards, but you must be careful, or else your efforts might be for nothing.
Useful resource to learn more:
Tools to stay safe online
Many scams rely on you taking action such as clicking a link, downloading something or sending money somewhere.
In a lot of these instances, it is common sense and awareness that is required not to fall victim.
There are however one or two tools that can help you stay safer online and block certain types of scams.
Five top tools to stay safe online:
- Anti-virus / Anti-malware software: Such as Kaspersky, Norton, McAfee or even free services such as AVG or Avast.
- VPN Internet Protection: Such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish or check out our comparison of 21 popular VPN services.
- Web Browser: Ensure you keep your web browser and device updated with latest security patches.
- Firewall: Most operating systems come with a built-in Firewall, ensure to check your settings to make sure it's enabled.
- 2 Factor Authentication: Also known as 2FA comes as an app or physical key to require two-steps to login to important accounts.
Online scams are a significant problem that have troubled people around the world for decades.
Despite our familiarity with the internet these days – we are ALL still susceptible to them, as scammers have evolved as well.
Lack of awareness is a thing that includes newcomers to the internet, as well as many who are quite familiar with it, especially when it comes to millennials.
Their long-lasting relationship with the web makes them feel safe like they know it inside and out. Older generations are much more suspicious, but with a lack of technology experience, it's these age groups that can get caught out just as much.
Remember these top tips to stay safe online:
- Always question offers and deals.
- Never take emails on face value.
- Don't share too much information on social media.
- If in doubt about links don't click them.
- Never open attachments from people you don't know via email or messaging services.
- Lastly, an old one but the best… If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Now you know the most common scams people fall for you can make sure to look out for them and avoid falling victim.
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