Common Internet Scams to Look Out For

While you’re online, it pays to be careful – and it can cost you if you aren’t! Here are some of the most common internet scams and how to protect yourself from them.


Phishing emails claim to be from reputable companies that attempt to trick people into revealing personal data such as passwords and credit card numbers. According to Heimdal Security, more than one-third of all security incidents for businesses start with phishing emails or malicious attachments sent to employees. You should also look out for “vishing” (voice phishing), which comes in the form of a phone call where scammers pretend to be from a legitimate organization or personal connection. Similarly, “smishing” comes in the form of a text message.

If you receive any messages from anyone you know asking for any codes or information – don’t do it. Be sure to call that friend on their cell phone to double check if it is really them.

Greeting Card Scams

Some scammers aim to inject malware and viruses through email attachments disguised as virtual e-cards that look like they’re coming from someone you know. You may not even notice that your computer is infected, but if you suddenly notice a bunch of pop-up windows, you might be in trouble.

Lottery Scam Variations

The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about fake prizes, sweepstakes, and lottery scams – all of which work by proclaiming that you’ve won something of value and asking for certain information or payment required to claim it. These can come by mail or phone but most commonly arrive in your inbox.

Hitman or Ransom Scams

“Hitman” extortion scams attempt to extort money from you using threats to you or your family – and they’ll back it up with accurate details. For example, an email may cite your current city or place of work, saying that you will be kidnapped or hurt unless you take action. These scams are frightening, but those personal details are often pulled from your online profiles. The best way to avoid hitman scams is to protect your data online and limit what you share publicly.

Dating Scams

Dating or romance scams come in many varieties, but in the end, they are all the same: a scammer pretending to be a love interest asks for money, possibly because they are in trouble or are coming to visit. You can avoid these scams by making sure you know who you’re really talking to online. You should also be suspicious of payments or gifts requested through channels that keep the person anonymous – like wire transfers or gift cards.

To be safe online, you must understand how scammers can target you. By recognizing the signs of these common scams, you can avoid falling for them.

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