Top Online Scams and How to Avoid Internet Scams

So far, we have all understood the power held by the realm of the internet. It has been providing convenience at our fingertips and fulfilling necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter for humans at just a click. However, it is only as good as it seems. There is an equivalent increase in scams and frauds on the internet. Around $100 million was lost in Canada due to online fraud in 2021. This number has exponentially increased in 2023. To expand more, this article introduces you to the top online scams and how to avoid internet scams.

Top Online Scams and How to Avoid Internet Scams

Statista mentions that 2022 accounts for the highest number of cyber fraud offenses, with over nine thousand cases registered with the authorities in Telangana. The country recorded over 17 thousand cases of cyberstalking and bullying offenses that year. What’s scary is that the number can be much higher, with many people lacking the knowledge or awareness to report scams under Indian law or identify fraud. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.

Job Scams

When executing a job scam, people will send a bunch of job positions available with seemingly high perks in terms of salary for a much lesser skill. However, to get a job, the candidates are required to pay. This is the basic idea for most criminals to execute a job scam.

Victims claim to have gotten such recruitment messages during the peak recruitment season on various social media accounts, WhatsApp, and even emails. Fraudsters can set up fake websites and pose as employees with promising jobs and high salaries. To qualify for the job, payments are asked at various stages for the further rounds.

These messages mostly have a mode of contact or a fake domain containing an accurate job-providing site. Some criminals have even reached the peak of setting up a phony company and having various followers to prove their popularity.

QR Code Scams

Hackers have devised a unique way to exploit the QR code functionality. India has digitized online payments for the most minor transactions. Criminals leverage this convenience by replacing their QR codes with legitimate ones and get the money in their accounts.

When a QR code is used to impersonate a legitimate brand and spread rumors and fake information on social media, urging people to click and see what it is, it is QR Code phishing. Just to get the clicks to satiate the curiosity of what lies behind the QR, hackers can conduct financial frauds, deliver malware, and steal personal information.

Insurance Scam

Users are advised to be careful of third-party brokers or agents who set up fake offices and provide you offers to get an insurance claim settled. While ordinary people are not used to reading the terms and conditions or the claim reasons revolving around the insurance policies, hackers take this opportunity to send lucrative offers at additional costs, claiming to be associated with a reputed company.

They might often seize this opportunity to promise a claim settlement and steal money before vanishing without any proceedings. The cybercriminal dark web has been flooding with fake document creation services to fakely generate user personas to bypass certain restrictions and provide falsified documents.

Fake Apps Scam

Cybercriminals are hunting for people who are used to accessing third-party websites and getting mobile applications for free that are otherwise paid. By luring people into downloading third-party applications, hackers can successfully get their devices infected with malware, causing disruption and data-stealing operations.

Users might also be fooled into downloading an application from non-legitimate sources at a lower cost but, instead, get a completely different app, likely with a virus.

Phishing Scams

Phishing is familiar; every reader must have received at least one phishing mail monthly. It often has fake information intending to benefit the hacker by harming the victim in various ways. Sometimes, the motivation is for fun, but serious cybercriminals spread phishing via fake apps, websites, software downloads, emails, SMS, and even calls.

Phishing has recently increased significantly and has primarily been involved in financial crimes. Statistics say that 3.4 billion malicious emails are sent every day. Users should be aware and take serious action by reporting such attempts.

Lottery Scams

The victims who need money are targeted constantly by luring them into fake lottery scams. To claim a significant sum, the fraudsters continuously ask for an advance fee at every payment processing stage. Many lottery applications are introduced and are sent from a legitimate domain to avoid suspicion.

While certain states in India have legalized the lottery, those interested in it should only go through registered shops. Falling into too-good-to-be-true offers for the lottery can psychologically manipulate everyone into giving sensitive data or paying without thinking twice. Users are advised to process and validate the information before reacting to it.

Charity Scams

In the last few years, we have seen a significant rise in charity and fundraising websites enabling financial aid to needy people. However, criminals have misused them in a lot of ways.

The first method is raising funds under a fake story that needs to be adequately validated. A group of fraudsters create media to extend sympathy and fool users into spending money towards charity. Due to the lack of validation and capabilities to remove false reasons to raise funds, it can be a way to make profits.

Secondly, users can use the above method and set up a fake donation website, making it difficult for the donor to know whether their money is reaching people in need. Such websites are glorified everywhere on social media and might disappear in a few days once profits are made.

How to Avoid Internet Scams?

Users should follow the given measures below to stay alert and avoid the internet scams:

For Job Scams

  1. Users should be careful about the too-good-to-be-true job offer opportunities, especially the ones who ask for money and only proceed further with a considerable lump sum of money as a service charge.
  2. Only send personal information to someone if the receiver has a verified identity.
  3. For the job postings generated from a newly emerged company with fewer vouches or no reviews.

For Insurance and QR Code Scams

  1. Do not scan anywhere online from the websites where you don’t trust.
  2. Any questions or queries about your insurance policies should be directly asked to the company’s official representative, and payments should be made to the official names of the companies only and not to any personal payment ID.
  3. All the paperwork must be done by proofreading the documents carefully when dealing with a third-party agency.

For Fake Applications Scam and Phishing

  1. Download applications from legitimate sources only.
  2. Avoid free applications circulating on social media that duplicate an original application only because it offers freebies.
  3. Carefully allow only those privileges for an app essential for its functioning or prefer an alternative that runs on minimum permissions.
  4. Update the software application to avoid executing malware or trojans embedded in apps or software delivered through phishing links.
  5. Avoid entering any critical information through the links that you don’t trust.

For Lottery and Charity Scams

  1. Refrain from falling into any offers that are coming from any unsolicited services.
  2. Research the terms and conditions of the lottery that you are entering into.
  3. Verify the charity appeals and pay only if they are verified from external sources.
  4. Only specific fundraising and charity channels can provide a receipt of donations, indicating their valid presence through the government. Users should prefer donating and doing a charity with an office presence that can be visited to avoid suspicions.

As We Conclude the Article

Here, we tried to understand and gain valuable insights into top online scams and how to avoid internet scams. As much as identifying online fraud is necessary, it is essential to be aware of the ever-evolving scam techniques and report them. Taking small initiatives to help others detect and report a scam can make cyberspace safer, enhancing people’s ability to trust it and use it for a better cause. Let us know what you think about this article in the comments below.

Rishika Desai- Cyber Intelligence Threat Researcher

Author Bio: This article has been written by Rishika Desai, B.Tech Computer Engineering graduate with 9.57 CGPA from Vishwakarma Institute of Information Technology (VIIT), Pune. Currently works as Cyber Threat Researcher at CloudSEK. She is a good dancer, poet and a writer. Animal love engulfs her heart and content writing comprises her present. You can follow Rishika on Twitter at @ich_rish99.

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