A Guide to Avoiding Four of the Most Frequent Online Scams

In the early days of the Internet, scammers were few and far between. As the people’s technological literacy started to rise, so did the frequency of these often very harmful hoaxes. According to a study, only in the US one in ten adults fall victim to a fraud. Usually, the target population is the elderly who have spent less time online and aren’t well aware of the scams. The following four points will cover some of the most frequent ones, as well as a few effective ways to avoid falling victim to them.


Four Most Common Online Scams


  1. Email Scam


Commonly referred to as a phishing email, this type of scam tries to trick people into willfully giving out their personal information. The senders mask themselves as a popular service, company, or another person of trust in order to scare the person into thinking that the email is legitimate. They can sometimes be followed by an identically realistic phishing website such as PayPal or Facebook from where they’ll extract the data. It’s a very popular approach with 22% of company breaches connected to phishing emails.


To avoid these types of scams, steer clear of any suspicious emails. If they’re legitimate, the company will find another way to reach you. Never click on any links that you receive, even if they seem to be leading to the right website. You can also use Spokeo’s email lookup feature, which will show you all the personal information related to the email address’s owner. This way, you can easily tell if they’re truly who they say they are.


  1. Phone Call Scam


Getting a call from an unknown number stimulates everyone’s curiosity. Before you fall to the eagerness, remember that it could cost you a great deal. Similarly to emails, the person on the other end could be impersonating someone with authority. However, it’s also possible that they’re trying to get you to stay on the line so that they can try and sell you their story. Sometimes, it might not even be a human on the other end – robocalls have been skyrocketing in popularity, and they’re just as dangerous.


The simplest solution would be to avoid answering or calling back any number that you aren’t familiar with. If the person is representing themselves as a certain individual – even your relative – make sure to double-check. Reverse phone lookup by Spokeo will give you the name of the caller, their current address as well as other crucial details so that you know exactly who you’re dealing with.


  1. Online Shopping Scam


These scams can be executed either by a single person on a legit website or from a dedicated fake online store. Suspiciously cheap items that you’ve been drooling over can be an irresistible opportunity. However, it also means that you’re putting information such as your credit card number and even your whole identity at risk. Before you proceed with a purchase, it’s important to cover all the risky aspects.


Verified sellers will rarely ask you for prepayment. They’ll accept safe payment methods such as PayPal, Dwolla, and other services. See what the price of that specific item is on the other websites – if it sounds too good to be true, it’s not worth the risk. Depending on what the seller left as their contact info, you can run a phone number search or an email lookup with Spokeo to get a detailed report from billions of accurate records.


  1. Catfishing


Catfishers prey on people who are seeking an emotional relationship online. They present themselves as the perfect person for you – they have the same interests, they promise fairy tales and they seemingly have no flaws. However, a very common theme with all the catfishes is their apparent lack of images. They’ll only have a profile picture or upload a few here and there. This makes sense when you think about it – since a catfish lies about their true identity, they’ll be as secretive as possible.


To see if you’re being catfished, ask the person for a video chat session. If they’re not real, they’ll always make up some excuses or even disappear suddenly. Never give out personal data or send money their way if you don’t have concrete evidence that the person is real. Run every single one of their images through Google’s reverse image search tool – if it discovers any photos, you’ll know that you have a catfish on your hands.

Article was written in collaboration with Spokeo


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