From social media, to emails, to texts, scammers are bombarding us with requests.
Heard from any Nigerian princes lately asking for your financial assistance? If so, you definitely aren’t alone. It’s one of the very first email scams going back to the ’90s and it’s still operating. Most people are aware of that one by now, but there are many other, lesser-known grifts out there. In fact, the FBI reports that online scams cost Americans $10.3 billion last year.
Some of these cons are pretty clever, and even intelligent Americans can be suckered in if our guard is down. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and with that old saw in mind, let’s review some of the top online scams so you can get them before they get you.
1. The Student Loan Forgiveness Rip-Off. With the government’s attempts to expand student loan forgiveness eligibility, scam artists have wasted no time taking advantage. Many have constructed phony loan-forgiveness application sites as a means of stealing bank information and social security numbers. Never reveal personal data on an online form unless you’re 100% certain it’s legit. For real info on the current student loan forgiveness situation, visit the gov website.
2. The Cryptocurrency Con. Everybody’s heard of bitcoin and other types of cryptocurrency, but few of us really understand what the deal is. And scammers are happily taking advantage of our ignorance. They’ll often contact you by email or text and encourage you to invest in a company that’s supposedly going up for an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). They’ll assure you that your stake in the company will make you wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. Unfortunately, these companies usually don’t exist. And even if they do, the coins they sell you are high risk or worthless.
3. The Dating Game. Grifters will often take advantage of lonely people by setting up a profile on a dating app using a stolen identity or fake info. They’ll bide their time at first to gain your trust, then eventually cajole you into sending them money or gifts. A new twist has found dating-site scammers pretending to be financial gurus and encouraging their would-be paramours to put money into a phony investment opportunity. Dating site scams have become a growing threat in recent years. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that they’re up 80% compared to 2020 and they’re six times more prevalent than they were in 2017. A good tip-off that you’re dealing with a faker—besides those impudent requests for swag—is when they make suspicious excuses to avoid meeting you in person.
4. The Phony Delivery Diversion. This one is becoming increasingly common. You’ll receive a text or an email from someone claiming to be a delivery driver who says they can’t find your house or that your package can’t be delivered due to an “incomplete” address. They provide a link for you to click that supposedly enables you to provide the needed info for you to receive your package, but it actually downloads malware that will forward your passwords and bank account information to the grifter.
5. The Social Profile-Kidnapping Scam. In this operation, they will take over your profile on a social media site. They will then demand that you pay them to get it back. Often they will attempt to extort you by threatening to post damaging or embarrassing content on your page. If this happens to you, don’t empty your wallet for these crooks. Immediately notify the relevant social media platform.
Simply being cautious and aware of internet scams goes a long way toward keeping yourself from being a victim. For more on methods for keeping your computer data secure, click here