It is almost a certainty that at some time in your life, you will be targeted by scams – and the Internet has made it so much easier for the scammers to find you. While some scams are glaringly obvious money-stealing attempts, others are not quite so obvious… Especially for those newer to the Internet. However, it’s not difficult to understand how these scams work and more importantly, how to recognise them.
The three most common email scams can be labeled under the terms of Phishing, Nigerian, and Lottery scams:
This is where the email identifies itself with a bank or some kind of financial service provider. You are directed to a link in order to provide personal information such as account numbers and passwords, often into a website that is nearly identical to the official website of an official company. In this case, the scammer directly receives your details and will use them however they please – If you provide them! Official companies seldom request sensitive information via email, if at all, if you have any doubts just call the company directly and question the email’s legitimacy.
Here the email requests your help to access a small fortune in a foreign bank account, in return you will receive a percentage of the funds. Also known as a “419” scam, the email acts as an opening to then scam people regarding a fortune that doesn’t exist. Once you reply and engage in dialogue with the scammer, you will be asked to transfer an “advance-fee” supposedly needed prior to the promised transaction.
The final common scam email informs the target that they have won some huge amount of money through an international lottery that they were “randomly selected” to be in the draw. Often the emails will reference and link to legitimate companies and lottery organisations. Once again there is no money anywhere, the only real money is the money they attempt to get the target to send through as a “processing fee” along with a great deal of personal information.
For a great breakdown of the Top 10 Internet and Email Scams, check out Paul Gil’s article on About.com here. Take your time to read through each one so that in the future you won’t even be tempted to respond or follow a link.
Be very careful around emails from strangers (or anybody for that matter) who promise you money or business deals, ask for donations, or ask for any sensitive information either via email or through a link… They are most likely looking to scam you!