With the increase in e-commerce and online marketing, cybersecurity threats are continuing to flood the marketplace. Scammers are adept at using fear to convince people to do irrational things, such as disclosing confidential or financial information. The best guard against scammers is to constantly stay informed about the latest methods they are using in the marketplace. Below are the 5 most popular online methods scammers are using today.
Fake Antivirus Software
One of the most common scams is an antivirus popup that appears on a computer screen, telling the user that their computer is infected with several viruses that need attention immediately. These types of scams are known as Trojans or Trojan Horses and are a type of malware that commonly infect computers. It is important to note that just because the popup appears, it doesn’t mean that the computer is infected. Computers only become infected when users click to download the supposed antivirus software to “fix” their computer. The vast majority of antivirus software takes care of virus threats in the background and only notify a user when they block a threat, not before (The 5 most popular, n.d.).
Social Security Number Issues
Scammers often pretend to be investigators over the phone, telling a person that their social security number has been stolen. They often leave phone messages with a fake phone number that the individuals can call to resolve the problem (6 Scams, 2020). As a general rule, never give your social security number over the telephone, and only provide this information if you are certain it is necessary, such as filling out medical information in a doctor’s office, applying for a job, or setting up an investment account.
One of the most salacious methods that scammers use to defraud individuals is to set up a fake charity in the wake of a recent catastrophe or disaster. These kinds of scams can be as simple as a GoFundMe account, asking for money to help for a cause that doesn’t exist. Legitimate charities rarely ask for compensation by cash, money transfer, or Bitcoin, and generally do not pressure individuals to donate, so avoid any charities that exhibit these characteristics (Leach, 2020).
Phishing is one of the oldest, most common, and most effective scams utilized throughout the world. Phishing involves a hacker hijacking the identity of a trusted person, like a friend, coworker, or neighbor, by use of that person’s email or social media account . The hacker then uses the trusted persona to get an individual to click on a link or provide sensitive information. Poor grammar and misspelled names are common indicators of phishing attempts, and hovering the cursor over the link in the phishing e-mail will reveal the entire link which indicates if it leads to a scam website (The 5 most popular, 2020).
With the growing use of online dating, scammers are now creating fake identities and personas to get other individuals to fall in love with them and then provide financial support. Even worse, scammers may be looking to physically harm unsuspecting individuals. Common dating scams to look out for include individuals who claim to work on an oil rig, are in the military and stationed overseas, or are a doctor in an international organization (What You Need, n.d.).
Feel free to let us know about the methods that you implement to avoid being scammed or if you have any questions.