The more we use the Internet, the more we appreciate its convenience. Unfortunately, the Internet is also a main hub for exploitation that can sometimes seem surprisingly genuine. Here’s a quick rundown on the top 5 Internet fraud scams that you should watch out for.
1. The Nigerian 419 Scam: This scam actually dates back to the early 1800s, and while Nigeria has been flagged for notorious Internet scam, it could actually come from any country. The sender claims to be from a wealthy family and wants to move a large sum of money out of the country. If you assist by paying legal and miscellaneous fees, you are promised a percentage of the money. Of course, the reality is, you’ll never get any of the money that’s promised. They’re simply draining you of funds as long as you participate.
2. Advanced Fees Paid for a Guaranteed Loan or Credit Card: If you receive an offer of a guaranteed line of credit that requires advanced fees, don’t buy into it! No reputable bank or credit card company asks for up-front fees. This scam is obvious if you take the time to read the fine print.
3. Lottery Scams: This email scam congratulates you as a winning participant in a lottery. The catch is, you have to pay advanced fees to collect the winnings. Simply put…if you didn’t buy a ticket, you really didn’t win any lottery. Don’t fall for it!
4. Phishing: This is the most widespread Internet fraud scheme, in which digital con artists attempt to acquire usernames, passwords, credit card details, or other personal information. The scammer sends an email out masked as a bank, online processor, or a popular website. But, when you click on the link, you go to a fake website (that looks like the real thing) and unknowingly divulge your ID and password to the scammer. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this type of information by email or text. Don’t click on the links!
5. Overpayment Scams: This scam targets people selling high-ticket items such as cars, boats, trailers, etc. The scammer responds to your classified or online ad, and they make up a reason to pay more than the selling price you’re asking for. However, they want you to wire the difference back to them, after you deposit their check. Meanwhile, the check they’ve given you is counterfeit, and you lose money. To combat this scam, never accept a check for more money than your selling price, and never wire funds back to a buyer.
For more information to protect yourself from (or report) Internet fraud, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov. And, as always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I might be of any assistance to you!