Everyone can be a victim of online scams… Are you?
Electronics, Headphones and Sneakers
The number of teens who have been victimized through online scams involving shopping, dating, scholarships, employment, anti-virus software, tax refunds and identity theft, among other schemes is continuously growing. The effects of these scams range from receiving a dress that looks nothing like the one you paid $300 online for, to even having your bank account or email hacked.
Last year $8.1 million was lost by teens due to online scams, according to the FBI’s “2015 Internet Crime Report.” Americans overall, including targeted teens, lost $1.07 billion. However, it is estimated that only 15% of these internet-based scams and fraud were reported.
A nonprofit advocacy group, the National Consumers League, has claimed that over 50% of complaints of fraud received to come from those aged 13 to 19 involve Internet merchandising scams, such as receiving the wrong item (typically of lesser quality than the original ordered item).
If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. It is recommended that consumers should search around and compare prices on other websites for the same, or a similar, item. If you are still wary of the item you are ordering or the website, it is also important to review the return and complaint policies of the company or website and check other people’s reviews.
More and more teens are using social networking sites and media, like Twitter and Instagram. With this increase in social media usage, scammers are targeting more victims. Many of these scams usually involve duping unknowing teens of their money. In most cases, scam artists are typically located overseas, outside of the United States.
In a recent events, nine large Indian call centers were raided. According to the Washington Post, workers at the call centers were caught attempting to scam American taxpayers into releasing information to their bank accounts so that they could be hacked. It is said that the victims were being threatened with jail time if the “overdue” taxes were not paid.
Scams used to defraud shoppers and consumers typically involve asking for wire transfers from a personal bank account. According to Western Union Consumer Protection, “A money transfer service is a great way to send money quickly and conveniently to friends and loved ones. However, it is not intended for use when doing business with a stranger”.
To ensure your personal and financial security, refrain from sending ANY money to someone you have never met in person. It is also important to not send money to someone who asked for help for for an unconfirmed emergency situation. It is advised against to send money transfers for rental deposits or payments, online purchases, employment opportunities, donations to charities, tax payments or anti-virus software. Experts advise to refrain send any bank details, wire money or (especially) agree to travel somewhere in the case of one of these scams or others like it.
The FBI’s “2015 Internet Crime Report” addresses the other serious threat of a type of malware delivered through fake emails, referred to as ransomware. These are emails that may seem like harmless spam mail, but are quite the contrary. Ransomware is typically intended to scam personal information, such as passwords and credit card information. For the most part, these emails seem legitimate and attempt to persuade you to open a link, allowing scammers to access your computer and everything on it. Ransomware encrypts computer files, holding them hostage in a way, allowing scammers to demand payment in exchange for re releasing the information back to you.
However, not every case of online scams involve the motivation of money. Some instances of internet fraud, such as “catfishing”, are aimed moreso at seducing and tricking victims into creating a romantic relationship with a fake profile, such schemes being exploited on the appropriately titled TV show “Catfish.”
Some other online schemes aim to steal personal identities. This includes instance of hacking personal data, or even the stealing of information from government agencies.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
Fraud and scams are everywhere on the internet. While there is never a guarantee as to what will be the repercussion of engaging in financial activity online, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from being someone’s next target. Research the company, person, or organization you are giving money to, check reviews on the website or elsewhere, and check the legitimacy of who you are giving your money to and their product. By being aware and educating yourself on the repercussions of your online activity, you can ensure your personal financial security and prevent yourself from being a victim of online scams.
If you or someone you know has been victimized in an online scam, or have suspicions of being scammed online, feel free to schedule a free consultation with one of our investigators regarding any questions. Contact us at our main office at (571)-451-4833, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You deserve the right to privacy, security, and can protect yourself from being the next victim of online fraud- you deserve to know.
For further information, check out our other blogs and articles on online scams, fraud, and cybersecurity here.