What are the latest internet scams to beware of and how can you avoid them?

Guest Post From Sarah Hewitt

Be sure to follow Sarah on twitter @SarahHewitt52

Internet scams will exist as long as scammers continue to be inventive. Fraud prevention teams work extremely hard investigating internet fraud but once one scam has been brought under control a new, more inventive one will arise. For this reason it’s important to stay on your toes when it comes to online transactions or interactions.

One of the most famous scams of the internet age has become known as the ‘Nigerian prince’ due to the scammer’s method of extracting cash using an elaborate back story.

Email Link Virus

Links within the body of an email that urge you to click through to a website are known as phishing links and have been around for a number of years. The more sophisticated of these emails will appear to be from a well-known and trusted organization such as a bank or phone company. When you click the link the website may even look like the official website however if you’ve been requested to verify your card details or similar you should beware. Check the URL in your browser- if it’s irregular then leave and visit the correct web address instead.

Don’t click a link in your email where you cannot see where the link goes. If the text is hyperlinked you should mouse over it or right click it as if to edit it. You should then be able to find out if the link you thought was to a 20% off sale at ASOS really goes there at all. Shortened URL such as those created by but.ly can be converted back again using longurl.org.

Automatic Email Viruses

Emails can launch a virus upon opening. In days gone by the virus was usually contained in an attachment but this variety, known as the ‘drive-by email’ begins downloading malware when you open it.

Don’t open emails from addresses you don’t recognize, that don’t have a subject line or have a suspicious subject such as ‘Urgent-renew you insurance today’. If you already have security software on your computer I urge you to install some straight away. AVG has an excellent free anti-virus package.

Additionally you should make sure your email security settings are set to maximum and if you use browser based email clients such as Gmail and Yahoo! you should update your browser to the latest versions. The newest updates for browser also try to combat the latest scams and viruses.

Online Dating Scam

Yes, even the world of romance has been tainted by fraudsters. The methods of fraudsters on dating sites is rather low tech and sometimes so blatant that you wonder how people continue to be scammed but unfortunately it could happen to you too. After building a rapport online the person you think you’re chatting with (usually a pretty young lady) will tell you a tale of woe which either ends with a request for money or compels you to offer cash.

Don’t trust too easily. You should question how much about your new online friend can be verified. The fraudster will often concoct a scenario where by you can’t meet in person or speak over the phone.

ID Theft

ID theft can happen in a number of ways and occurs on and offline. Online vulnerabilities include your social media presence and shopping accounts. Details stored locally on your desktop are also at risk. If your laptop is stolen or your computer screen at work is left open it’s very easy to glean enough information to adopt your identity.

Don’t use the same password for everything. Make sure you lock and password-secure all your digital devices. Don’t allow automatic login to sites such as Facebook. Many shopping sites now require you to verify your password before you make a purchase or view your account details but some don’t so always log out.

You should also never give sensitive details over unsecured channels. Sending your complete credit card details over instant chat is not smart. Keep an eye on transactions in your bank account. You might notice small amounts of cash you can’t account for. Be vigilant, scams often start small in order to test the account and judge if you’re likely to investigate it but then a huge amount of cash could be debited.

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