Finance LIFESTYLE  >  Avoiding Internet Scams, Part 2

Avoiding Internet Scams, Part 2

Avoiding Internet Scams, Part 2
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BY KITT WALSH

Yesterday I wrote about some Internet scams which we may all fall for—particularly at this busy time of year. Here are a few more internet scams out there waiting to snare us unless we are paying attention:

Lottery: It is scary how many of us, when asked our retirement plan, would honestly be able to answer, “I plan on hitting the lottery.” How will you react when you get an email saying you did win millions? All you need to do to cash in your winnings is to pay the several thousand dollars “processing fees”. There will be no processing fee if you really ever hit the lottery (the tax man will be standing at your side as you receive your winnings, but that doesn’t count as processing.)

Fake web pages: The use of these is called “phisihng” and it is the most widespread internet scam there is, but it is based on an old premise–the sting. Crooks get you to reveal your secret (in this case, your password and/or financial info) by using fake web pages or emails. These fakes look like the real thing and are purported to be from a trusted site like your bank, your credit card company or online retailers like EBay or PayPal. Usually you are asked to confirm your identity and there is a sense of urgency conveyed—like hackers have broken into your account or some such ruse. (A bold move, since hackers will do just that if you respond with the information.) You’ll be asked to click a link and you end up on a website that looks like the real thing, but isn’t. Your info then gets “fished” out from that site by the scammer and he/she will hit your real account for big bucks. Here are some ways to detect a phishing” email:

The url (the www. address that shows in your browser) doesn’t match the address listed in the body of the email.

–The url contains a misleading domain name (such as www.yahyahoo.com instead of www.yahoo.com).

–The spelling and grammar in the message are wrong.

–You are asked for personal information, particularly financial info or passwords.

–You didn’t initiate the action.

–You are asked to send money for any reason.

–The offer seems too good to be true (it is).

–The message appears to be from a government agency or law enforcement agency and uses threats or fear to motivate you.

–The message is from a bank where you don’t have an account asking you to clear up some mistake (by divulging your info).

The Nigerian: This scam involves you getting an email from a “wealthy” Nigerian—usually a widow who begs help to get a large amount of money out of the country. You get to keep thousands just for paying the legal and/or money transfer fees to get the money into the USA. Naturally, there is no money coming to you and any money you send will never be seen again. This is just another money transfer scheme—one of the oldest scams in existence.

An even more sophisticated variation is when you get an email from a friend who is “stuck in Poland “ or some foreign country, having been a victim of a burglary where all his/her money and passport has been taken. He/she can’t get the embassy to replace the passport without fees or he/she needs a ticket home immediately. Can you please wire money ASAP? Not only don’t wire it, mark the email as spam and warn your friend their password has been hacked.

Guaranteed loan or credit cards up-front fee: True, you will get charged a fee by most credit cards and certainly in order to take out a bank loan, but the card will bill the amount to your card balance and the bank will spread the amount over the life of the loan. Neither one will charge you an up front fee. Crooks do that.

Computer: You are solicited to send money to someone so that you can download instructions about how to turn your computer into a “money making machine.” You will get an ID at signup and have to give your PayPal account information to get the big deposits coming your way. The program you are instructed to run (sometimes round the clock) opens hundreds of ad windows constantly which are used to generate per click revenue for spammers. Or your ID is set up for a certain number of page clicks per day. In order to make any money, you have to hide your real IP address by using an internet proxy like “find not” so you can make more page clicks. Not only have you become a slave to the spammer, but your poor computer will suffer from such performance degradation, it will run like a snail.

As long as we have money, people will still be trying to cheat us out of it. Keep a sharp eye out in 2015.

 

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