How To Avoid Online Scams in 2021

Online scams are some of the most common forms of consumer fraud in the United States. There are many different types of online scams, all with one goal: to get money or other valuable information from their victims. These scams include phishing, domain spoofing, malware installation, defamation, and advanced fee fraud.

Domain Spoofing

Of these various forms of scamming people on the internet, domain spoofing is one of the more effective ones. This is when scammers send e-mails that appear to come from a known or trusted party/entity but are not what they seem at first glance.

For example, it may look like an eBay notification email but links you to a fake webpage that looks exactly like eBay where you enter your username and password so your information can be stolen by bad actors. 

Another example would be if you receive an email from your bank and it seems like they’re sending you a bill or something similar, but when you click on the link, it takes you to a webpage that looks exactly like your bank’s webpage. When you enter in your username and password, the scammers get access to all of your information and can begin transferring money out of your account without your knowledge.

This is just one small example of hundreds. If you go online by yourself or with others for extended periods, then it’s very likely you’ve heard about at least one scam in some form or another.

Due to the large amount and variety of these scams popping up every day (and still existing even while we talk), I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone has been exposed to some form of scam.

online scams

Preventing Scams

Much like many other forms of online fraud, the best way to avoid getting scammed is simply by knowing what scams look like and how they operate. Here are a few tips:

  • Remember that if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. People don’t just give away money for free; there’s always a catch or hidden motive behind such things!
  • If you didn’t sign up for something, don’t click on any links without checking with them through another means first. This could either be their actual website (which would make the link legitimate) or another means of contact like an email address.
  • Malware is something that you should always be aware of, especially since most viruses come in the form of corrupted files (like .exe programs). If you receive something like this through emails or elsewhere, refuse to open them and delete them immediately! You don’t need any more viruses on your computer than you already have.
  • Not all websites are 100% trustworthy; some may display the common “This website is secure” notice but isn’t. Being able to tell whether or not a website can be trusted takes time and experience, so just keep that in mind when entering sensitive information into websites.

Phishing Scams 

Many people think that phishing scams are easy to spot in emails but really aren’t. This is because many of these emails seem legitimate at first glance, so it’s important to know what signs to look for when identifying them.

What They Look Like

There is no specific way that phishing emails will look, so this makes them even harder to spot. Sometimes they may have a generic description, while other times they may seem very personal and detailed about your life. 

How They Operate

Phishing scams operate by trying to trick their victims into giving out sensitive information without realizing it. They often include links in the email that lead users to fake websites with false login pages where you enter your username and password into a place where bad actors can steal it from you. However, there are also instances of direct contact spoofing as well, where you receive an email that seems to be from someone familiar but is a bad actor trying to get you to click on certain links or download files.

Avoiding Phishing Scams 

The best way to avoid being scammed by phishing emails is simply through the use of common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, then chances are it probably is. Also, if you didn’t sign up for something, don’t click any links within the email because that may end up leading you towards a scam website designed solely for stealing information.

Your bank will never ask you to log into your account and verify information through an email (and if they do, look for the actual website address in the email to make sure it isn’t fake). Phishing emails can also be identified by their lack of specifics or personalization. Either way, it’s always best to be on the side of caution.

Nick Martin
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