If you use any web-based service, you are at risk of being targeted by cyber criminals. Whether it’s through your email, pop-ups, online shopping and banking accounts, or even something as seemingly innocent as a greeting card, you could easily become a target.
The first line of defense is to make sure you have a reputable antivirus software installed on your device, but it’s important to realize that antivirus software can only take you so far. You have to learn how to practice smart habits and be able to recognize suspicious activities on your computer. The best way to start that is to learn what you’re dealing with.
1. GREETING CARD SCAMS
Starting with the most seemingly-innocent of the scams, here’s what you need to know. A greeting card scam usually comes to you in your email. It might seem to be coming from a friend. Often, there will be a message informing you that a friend has sent you a greeting card. You’ll be prompted to click on links and/or download certain software to view the card.
There are all kinds of different viruses and scams, so the level of harm will vary. At the very least, you could be bombarded by unsolicited pop-ups that seem impossible to stop. At the very worst, you could accidentally download spyware that can be used to report your personal information to a larger server. If that’s the case, it may even take months before you realize you’ve been infected.
2. FAKE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE
Fake antivirus software may target you in the form of a pop-up. Often, the pop up will claim that “You have been infected!” and try to make you feel a sense of urgency so you’ll mindlessly download whatever software the pop up is offering. Do not fall for this! You could be downloading something insidious that can harm your computer or access your personal, private information.
If you already have antivirus software, it’s important to pay attention to what your pop ups say. You don’t want to accidentally fall for the fake antivirus software scam thinking it’s a pop up from your already-installed software. Make sure everything you click is coming from the right source.
If you don’t already have antivirus software, don’t fall into the trap of downloading any antivirus service that is offered to you. If you’re in the market for an antivirus service, search with purpose. Know which ones are reputable and only download from the direct site.
3. PHISHING SCAMS
Most commonly used through email and social networking sites, you may receive a message prompting you to click on a link and log into your account. If you click on these links, you will be sent to a webpage that is specifically designed to look like whatever site it’s claiming to be for. Thinking it’s the proper webpage, you might fall for the trick and enter your login information to try to access your account to “verify your identity” or to fix some other problem.
To avoid this sneaky scheme, you need to train yourself to always check the web address for pages before entering any information. If you need to google the real website to compare, do it! It’s worth the extra steps to keep yourself safe. If the web address doesn’t match the certified site’s, don’t enter any information. Follow up by running a scan through your reputable antivirus software.
4. MONEY OFFER SCAMS
It may be a “guaranteed credit card” offer. It may be a “pre-approved loan.” It may even tell you that you’re the “winner of today’s lottery” if you just pay a small fee. Whatever it is, your first defense is to ask yourself:
Why would this entity offer me money without knowing my financial history and situation?
Why would I have to send money just to get money?
Offers like these are either looking for your personal information or your money. Whether it’s getting you to give up you social security number or getting you to pay some kind of fee that will never be returned, these scams can be very damaging. Don’t go for the dangling carrot. It will only lead to suffering.
5. CYBER LOVE CONS
We all like to think we’re level-headed enough to avoid the love con, but the truth is a skilled cyber con artist (or catfish) can pull the wool over your eyes faster than you’d expect. Our emotions can be our biggest weaknesses, and romantic emotions are often at the top of that list.
Once the romance scammer has wriggled past your defenses and wedged him or herself into your circle of trust, there are a few things that may happen:
- The scammer will have a sudden emergency and need you to lend money ASAP. Chances are, you will never get the money back and the scammer will likely drop off the face of the earth.
- The scammer will send you checks to cash because the scammer is somehow unable to cash them alone. Chances are, you are assisting in some kind of fraud or money laundering scheme.
- The scammer will ask you to forward a package or two. Chances are, you are assisting in another type of fraud or assisting in the trade of stolen or illicit merchandise.
A good rule of thumb: never do any favors for someone you don’t know and have never met in person. And if you’re going to meet them in person, don’t pay for any travel and don’t put yourself in a situation where you can be assaulted, kidnapped, or robbed.
Overall, the severity of the damages may vary, but these common scams are used by criminals to target individuals through the world wide web. Being an Internet user is a bigger liability than many people realize, and it’s necessary to keep yourself informed and aware so that you can train yourself to protect yourself. Start by performing a search on https://socialcatfish.com.