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Sep 12, 2013
The Internet Crime Complaint Center receives nearly 350,000 complaints from victims of Internet scams and frauds each year. In other words, nearly a thousand people a day fall for online scams, and those are the ones we know about. Internet scams drain $300 million from scam victim’s wallets each year. It would be assumed that with people becoming more computer savvy this number would begin to diminish—it’s not.
A scammer’s main goal is to get your account numbers, your password, or any other kind of personal information he can. Most scammers don’t have incredible hacking powers to get inside a computer; they’re mostly like normal people you see day to day. Instead of hacking, they use simple, yet convincing, tricks to get your money out of your pocket faster than you can say scam.
There are many different types of fraud, from phishing websites to auction fraud, but there’s one law to always live by on the Internet. If it looks too good to be true, it is. Common sense will always be your number-one ally.
Scammers use email as their main weapon of choice. They send emails that look as if they are from your bank, or an online store, or part of an online organization offering a great deal, or a quick and easy loan; but in reality, they’re not. An email from your bank will never ask you to send them your banking information or password. In reality, no official organization will ever ask you to send them your password. If you are ever asked for your password over email, it’s a scam.
Many emails will contain links to official-looking websites. This becomes more difficult to detect because scammers will build websites that look just like your bank’s website or an online store with amazing deals and then they’ll ask you for your credit card information, bank account numbers, or your password. Analyze the website closely, check the URL to see if it’s correct, and even call your bank/organization to ask why they need you to provide them with such confidential information. If the bank/organization can explain to you the process, it signifies that it is not a scam. If the bank/organization doesn’t know what you’re talking about, it’s a scam.
Continue to be cautious. A scammer can only take from you what you give to them, so when making financial decisions online, slow down, analyze, and think. Each year, scammers refine their skills and become better at tricking people online, but by keeping your eyes open and alert, you’ll soon be able to spot all of their little tricks. Remember, if it looks too good to be true on the Internet, it probably is.
For further help with identifying scammers and what to do if you have fallen for a scam, please visit the following websites.
Online Scams that Impersonate the IRS - This site describes how scammers claiming to work for the IRS con their victims.