This month I am starting a new feature, Credit Corner with Jeff Sipes of local credit repair expert Blue Water Credit. Every month I will feature one of Blue Water’s most useful posts of the month on their website, with a link back to the story on their site so you can check out all they have to offer.
Online fraud is one of the fastest growing forms of crime, reaching epidemic proportions in a nexus of technology and cruel anonymity that defies international borders. The highest instance of fraud attempts are now aimed at businesses, violating their often-weak or nonexistent firewalls to access customer financial data, and using it with impunity.
In a recent report by IDology, 66% of organizations polled reported suspected online fraud attempts in the past 12 months, and 35% reported an increase in those numbers. As more and more consumers conduct commerce over the internet, and businesses adjust to the digital age reality that an online presence is more important than a retail store, the sharing – and potential misuse – of consumer information online is at an all time high.
In fact, 78% of attempted fraud violations occur in website applications, as savvy criminals commandeer your financial information, and then cash in with a customer-not-present business, which operates via telephone or online transactions.
Here are 10 common online scams to be wary of:
1. ScareWare Scams.
An error message or warning pops up on your screen claiming the computer is infected with a virus and then the bad guys offer a program to fix it, for a price of course. This often happens when the user clicked on a scam advertising banner or allowed a download. If you don’t fix the ScareWare problem with a legitimate antivirus program, it could slow down your computer, or worse.
2. Hit man Email.
You open an email and read that it’s allegedly from an assassin, who will come after you unless you pay him money. Though it sounds unbelievable, people actually fall for it.
3. Fraudulent Links.
It’s so easy to get a malware program or virus uploaded to an unsuspecting consumer’s computer, just by posting fake links. The links claim to be for something common place and safe, but once clicked will start a malware delivery.
4. Inside Information Stock Scams.
Emails are sent to the masses claiming to know some inside information about a company’s upcoming windfall, attempting to inflate the price before the bad guys sell off their position.
5. Lottery Winner Scams.
Emails announce that the recipient has won a large sum of money, and needs to file registration fees or disclose financial information to facilitate the transfer.
6. Reshipping and Payment Processing Fraud.
A complex game of illegally laundering money for criminals and shady organizations, in which the unsuspecting recruit is becomes legally and financially responsible.
7. Shopper Needed Check Fraud Scam.
The consumer is “hired” as a professional shopper, and sent a check for a few hundred dollars. They are instructed to cash the check, taking their portion and then forwarding the rest on to their employer in the business. Of course the check bounces but the victim already sent money from their own account.
8. Greeting Cards Scam.
An email arrives with a greeting card from a family or friend, but once the user clicks on it, it instantly takes you to booby-trapped websites that start downloading Trojans and other malicious software into the computer.
9. Nigerian 419 Scam.
This older scam tried to collect advanced fees from the recipient for some future transaction, similar to the Lottery Winner scam. They may claim all sorts of hardships, love affairs, business opportunities, or even to be a Prince ready to reclaim their throne, as long as you can help them out in the interim!
10. Phishing Scam.
These are scary – and surprisingly effective. Clicking on a link or email brings you to a site that claims to belong to a well-known financial institution or e-commerce site (like a fake banking or eBay site.) But when the consumer enters their information (or login and password to the real site) they’ll find their accounts have been cleaned out.