Common Types of Cyber Scams and How to Avoid them

Internet or online scams are criminal activities in which cybercriminals deceive internet users to obtain their personal and financial information. These cyber scams are carried out using social networks, chat rooms, gaming sites, dating sites, and shopping sites. Along with cybercrimes, cyber scams, and frauds are also increasing each year, as research indicates a loss of $770 million (in a sample of 95,000 users) due to social media fraud.

Therefore, you must stay vigilant to ensure your hard-earned money does not fall into the hands of fraudulent individuals. So, if you want to learn more about cyber scams to steer clear of them, continue reading!

Job Offer Scams

Job offer scams have become a nightmare for unemployed individuals. In 2022, most individuals fell victim to such tricks and lost approximately $68 million due to fake job opportunities. In job offer scamming, users receive an email or call from a company stating that HR has reviewed their resume. They are invited for a brief phone interview and are told they have landed the position.

After joining, the employer asks them to share account details, such as SSN (Social Security Number) and bank credentials. This information is used to gain account access for theft and other malicious purposes.

Some fake employers also use checks and money orders to carry out their schemes. For example, an individual may receive a salary through a check or money order. However, before they can cash in on the check, the employer may ask them to transfer a fee for the tax to the company account for legal reasons. Once the amount is transferred and the employee cashes in on the check, the check will bounce.

Only accept offers from legitimate and well-known companies to ensure you never fall victim to job scams. You should also visit the physical office to see if the business is legal. Moreover, you should only accept checks if it has the bank logo and bank address on them.

Lottery Scams

In lottery scams, you will receive a call or email from a scammer saying that you have won a tremendous amount of money through the lottery, lucky draw, or sweepstakes. You will also be asked to share your personal information, such as bank details.

In most cases, scammers tell you that you must pay a fee or taxes before transferring the amount to your account. Once the amount is transferred, you will never hear from them again. Another version of lottery scammer involves malicious individuals taking control of your social media account to gain the contacts of your friends and family members.

If you receive a lottery-winning email or call, use these points to learn its legitimacy:

  • You are not the only email receiver.
  • The call or email does not come from a company’s authentic phone number or ID.
  • The lottery or lucky draw is from an unknown company.
  • There is no chance that you have participated in a lottery or lucky draw
  • There is a legitimate company by that name in Google, and it has transparent reviews.

Beneficiary Scams

Beneficiary scams, also known as inheritance scams, use phishing attacks to gain personal information. To perform this attack, the scammer sends you an email stating that you are liable to a large chunk of inheritance left by a distant relative or benefactor. Once you get in touch with the attackers, you will be informed about the issues in claiming the inheritance due to government regulations and bank restrictions, which can be dropped if you pay a fee.

To ensure the success of this scam, you will be contacted by fake lawyers and bankers. You might even receive fake property documents and bank balance details through an email to remove any doubts you may be experiencing. As soon as you believe and transfer the money, you will never be contacted about the money or estate you were promised. Moreover, getting your money back will only be possible if wire transfers are reversible.

In the second type of beneficiary scam, you will only be asked to provide your personal information, such as your birth certificate, social security number (SSN), and bank details. The hackers will use this information to forge fake documents, stealing your identity to make illegal purchases.

The best way to protect yourself from these scams is to ignore emails about winning an inheritance. In addition, never send your credit card number, bank details, and copies of legal documents to any stranger, primarily online. If you ever receive this email, contact your lawyer and get professional advice.

Online Dating Scams

Online dating or romance scams are carried out using online dating websites and applications. Instead of chatting with a natural person, you will be talking to a fraudster who collects your personal information to use for blackmail.

According to an FBI report, online scams have increased by 25% since 2019. Therefore, new online dating scams are emerging for you to be wary of. Those types are:

  • Photo Scams: The scammer asks you to send intimate photos and later use them for blackmail.
  • Fake Dating Sites: Scammers create fake dating sites that resemble legitimate ones to mine your information.
  • Code Verification Scams: Fake dating sites or apps require the user to input a verification code during signup. In reality, it is the OTP used for confirming bank transfers.
  • Malware Scams: The fraudster impersonating a legit user sends a website link that contains malware. When the recipient opens the link, it infects the computer.

You can protect yourself from these scams by not sending compromising pictures to the person you match online. Moreover, set up a phone or video call to observe their actions.

Charity Fraud Scams

Charity scheme frauds are created to seek donations for non-profitable organizations. Instead of forwarding the money to an NGO, the money is received by the fake charity creator. These attacks increase in frequency after a disaster event occurs. This is because cybercriminals use tragedies to exploit the sympathetic feelings of people.

Charity fraud scams are conducted through emails, phone calls, social media posts, and crowdfunding platforms. The best way to obtain protection against these cybercrime cases is only to send donations to established and well-known charity organizations. Additionally, it is best to avoid opening links and email about donations. You must also avoid giving charity through gift cards, virtual currency, or wire transfers.

Repair Scams

In repair or tech support scams, the fraudsters make you believe that your computer or smartphone has a severe issue, such as a virus, when your device is free of malware. As a result, you may ask for tech support services to fix a problem that doesn’t exist in the first place.

Most scammers will require you to pay for the services through money wiring, bank transfer, checks, and credit card. This is because it is almost impossible to reverse the amount if you have paid through these methods. Contact an expert for consultation if you receive a call or email stating that your device has a cybersecurity issue.

Social Media Scams

A social media scam is a fraud conducted using social media platforms. The scammer creates a fake profile and sends spam messages that contain links to malicious websites. After clicking on the link, the virus will automatically be downloaded to your device.

It will then steal the information stored on your device and send it back to the hacker. Some social media scams also trick you into sending personal details or money by painting a critical situation. Therefore, you should not converse with strangers on social media, and if some unknown person sends a link, do not open it.

Typical examples of social media cybercrime examples are:

  • Ads encouraging you to invest in cryptocurrency
  • Online stores you place an order at but never receive the product
  • Online friends that gain your information and use it to commit identity theft

Robocall Scams

Robocalls scams use robots to carry out fraudulent activities. Instead of talking to a natural person on call, a robot will provide unsolicited marketing details and ask you to sign up for a service. However, some robocalls pretend to be from IRS or a legitimate company, asking for your personal information that is later used for identity theft. If you receive a robocall from a suspicious number, do not pick it up. If you answer it, do not talk and hang up immediately.

Messaging Scams

Messaging, text, or SMS phishing attacks are also known as smishing. For the success of these frauds, cybercriminals use deceptive text messages to lure users into sharing their personal and financial details. In most situations, smishing messages impersonate governmental departments, banks, insurance companies, or other official organizations to lend legitimacy.

Smishing scams ask you to share your personal information to resolve an issue. That is why you should never share confidential details after receiving a message, even from trusted resources. Remember, a legitimate organization never ask for your credit card number, PIN, or other personal details.

Online Shopping Scams

Online shopping scams involve a group of scammers pretending to be a legit e-commerce store. You can even see a website to shop, place an order, and wire transfer the product amount. However, the website is fake, and you will never receive your parcel.

While most online stores are actual, you must research to ensure you don’t end up at a fake store. So, check online reviews before ordering from a new website. It would be best if you stuck to well-known brands to avoid getting scammed.

Tips On How to Avoid Internet Scams

You can protect yourself from all types of internet scams by using the tips mentioned below:

  1. Do not entertain any request for your private details or money transfer
  2. Keep a lookout for phishing scams
  3. Hang up immediately if a caller asks you to allow remote access to your computer
  4. Upgrade the cybersecurity of your mobile and computer devices
  5. Review and update your privacy and security settings on social media
  6. Do not accept deals that appear too good to be true

What to Do If You’re Scammed

If you are scammed, immediately report it to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) online or by calling 1-877-382-4357 (9:00 AM – 8:00 PM, ET). FTC handles complaints about all types of scams. You should also contact your bank to check your recent transaction, ensuring you have carried them out. It is also best to frequently change your password and PINs to avoid unauthorized transactions.

Wrapping Up

Cyber scams are a critical issue as millions of people become victims annually. Therefore, you must be vigilant when using your computer devices and online forums. Ensure never to provide personal information or click on links sent by strangers or untrusted sources. Otherwise, you will lose your monetary assets to different types of scams.

So, keep your privacy updated at all times. In case you get scammed, make sure to contact the proper authorities to prevent further damage.