3 popular online scams and how to avoid falling into their trap

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online scams

Have you ever been on a website, checking it out for the first time and wished you didn’t click on something? Sorry to inform you but you’ve probably been scammed! Scams are a part of our life now. As technology develops and new platforms rise, scammers do as well. They find new ways to get your personal information and trick you into giving it to them. 

It’s all about how creative they can be. Whether it’s hacking your social media account or making an error on a website that can direct millions of people to their fake site and email, the possibilities are endless. In this article, we have put together some of the most popular scams that have trouble millions of people and we also give you useful tips that teach you how to protect your online privacy.

COVID-19 Online Scams

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, there are those who are taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty that has resulted from the pandemic.

Scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic have become widespread, with scammers trying to profit from the crisis. In April 2020 alone, more than 21,000 people reported having lost $13.4 million in coronavirus-related scams. 

Fake Stimulus Check Generator

The scammer will usually claim that the government is providing free money or free stimulus checks to everyone and you just need to click the link shared by them. Once you click, it takes you to a generator page where you will be asked for your personal information like bank account number, social security number, etc. This information can be used for stealing your identity and transferring money from your bank account.

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Fake Vaccine/Cure

The scammers try to use this opportunity to lure people into buying fake vaccines/cures for coronavirus. Any website or link that claims to have a cure or vaccine for COVID-19 should be avoided. It is also important that you don’t share any personal information with such sites as they might misuse it.

Misrepresenting Government Assistance Programs

This is when scammers falsely promise to provide financial assistance or other benefits tied to government programs, such as stimulus checks. They request personal information or charge application fees in order to get you access to these funds. How To Spot This Scam: When in doubt, check with your local government before providing any personal information. Also, government agencies will never ask for your Social Security number or bank account information over the phone.

Nigerian Prince Scam

You’re probably familiar with the Nigerian prince scam. It’s one of the longest running online scams and has survived to date, despite being around for more than a decade. The most common version is an email that claims to come from a wealthy Nigerian prince, requesting your help in transferring millions of dollars out of his country. In exchange, he promises to share some of the money with you. The catch? You’ll need to pay taxes or lawyers’ fees up front first. Can you spot the scam?

Although the Nigerian prince scam has been around for years, it still manages to trick people, who continue to be suckered into sending their money overseas. In fact, according to research from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), many people have lost over $100 million dollars since 2013 due to this one scam alone – and that’s just based on reported cases.

Fake Antivirus Warnings

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s still effective. These warnings are designed to make you believe your Mac is infected with viruses or spyware, and that only this particular program can save you.

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The pop-ups may take the form of a warning from Apple or a third party, or they may use the name of an actual antivirus program. The wording may be fancy and sound official, but trust us: Apple never warns you about viruses on your computer.

If this sounds familiar, don’t panic. This happens more often than you might think. Just close the window as you would any other pop-up window (or use Force Quit if necessary). If it reappears when you restart your Mac, try Safe Mode to get rid of it for good.

Quick tips to maintain online privacy

  • Do not disclose your personal information be it online or offline.
  • Set strong passwords for all your accounts and consider using a password manager.
  • Keep your computers’ operating system and browser up to date.
  • Install anti-virus software on your computer to detect viruses, spyware, and other threats.
  • Spend time in understanding the privacy policies of the websites you frequent, including social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. They should clearly explain what data they collect and how they use it.
  • Be careful about clicking links in emails from unknown sources, though you may think that you know where the link leads to. That is because it can redirect you to a malicious website which is designed to steal your personal information.

In Conclusion

There is a real risk that your personal information could be leaked to hackers by the websites you visit. Almost everyone has received spam and phishing emails, even if you haven’t opened them. The aim of this article is to present an overview of most popular scams, their symptoms and how you can protect yourself against these cyber threats.

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