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Red Flags to Spot Online Scams Part Two

Continuing with the series about identifying online scams, this is part two. In this part, I will look at the rest of the five most common online scams that people are falling for. I will also look at a few tips to avoid them altogether. So let’s dive in…

Five of the Most Common Online Scams (Continued…)

3.   Phishing Scams

This is the most popular online scam with more than a third of reported incidents starting with malicious attachments. It is based on communication made whereby the cybercriminal tricks their target into divulging sensitive data. Their credibility is often boosted by making it look like the communication is coming from a financial authority or other legitimate company. You would then be given a link to a “legitimate” website, controlled by them, where you will be tricked into entering your personal data, which they are recording. Your information is then sold to other cybercriminals.

Phishing Scams

Red Flags

  • You receive an unexpected email with a suspicious attachment.
  • The website and email address do not look legitimate.
  • You are asked to confirm personal information.
  • Immediate action is required to avoid your account being closed.
  • The content is very poorly written. Any legitimate business would have a better-than-basic grasp of compiling emails. (I have received a few where they didn’t even bother saying anything. All I got was a link.)

4.   Make Money Fast Scams

Almost everyone I know would opt for the easiest and fastest way to make money if given the chance. I mean who wouldn’t? Many would also love the freedom that comes with being your own boss. Here’s the thing…THE TWO ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE!

Cybercriminals use these desires for financial freedom to find their targets. They use fraudulent posts of non-existent jobs or work-from-home opportunities offering a large pay-out within a short period of time. Again, this scam is used to collect your personal information for selling. In some cases, they may even advertise that no experience is needed but then request that you pay for training.

Red Flags

  • The jobs advertised give vague information. Any legitimate company would be happy with full disclosure and tell you exactly what you would be doing.
  • The “get-rich-quick” promises.
  • They promise “no risk” and “big pay-outs”.
  • The paid trial and money-back guarantee don’t necessarily mean that it’s a scam. Although in some cases, it could just be a way for them to get your credit card information.
  • There are no legitimate contact details for you to contact them directly. The only option is to complete a “contact us” form.
  • Take a close look at the “testimonials” on the website. Poor spelling and grammar, as well as a repetitive tone all, indicate fake testimonials.

5.   Job Offer Scams

Now, this is particularly one that we’ve come across a few times. Although a few different tactics have been used, the two that we have experienced are:

Job Offer Scams
  1. Advertised jobs for content writers. After the application is sent in for the job, they request that a “sample piece” is written to test your skills and complete the application process. These sample pieces are then published without any compensation and under a different name.
  2. The other one is where they pretend to be recruiters making contact after seeing your LinkedIn profile (or something similar). They make contact to offer you a job with their client but in order to proceed with the application, you have to make an upfront payment for their services. Needless to say, they then just disappear without following through.

Red Flags

  • When they refuse to give you the name or website of the company that they claim to be hiring for.
  • They request an upfront payment for services yet to be rendered. (side note: most of the time a recruitment company will charge the client for the recruitment, not the candidate)
  • The email address does not look legitimate.
  • The job requirements and descriptions are very vague.
  • You are asked to provide personal information.
  • Spelling and grammatical errors in the job advertisement or correspondence.

How to Avoid These Scams

Boost Cyber Security
  • Make sure that you have strong passwords with a good mix of upper and lower case letters, special characters, and numbers.
  • Always be observant of profiles and correspondence. Take the few extra minutes to spot any spelling and grammatical errors. Yes, I know I keep mentioning this. These people have a surprising amount of time and effort going into these scams, yet they could not be bothered to run a simple spell-check. It really is a thing.
  • Pay attention to email addresses, URLs, and profile names. Take note if anything stands out or seems off with them.

My Final Thought

It is really very upsetting to see how many different scams there are out there. The worst part for me is how many innocent people actually fall prey to them and how they use legitimate opportunities as a basis for these operations. In their selfishness, they end up putting a smudge on those who are actually working with these legitimate opportunities and trying to make an honest income. I have two final thoughts on this:

Internet Scam
Image Source: Tom Fanelli
  1. IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS.
  2. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. IF YOUR SPIDEY SENSE IS TINGLING, LISTEN!

If you suspect that you’ve been scammed, report it to the authorities immediately. If your banking details are involved, inform your bank so that the necessary steps can be taken.

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