As if we, as web users needed another reason to guard our identities like our last stick of gum, here is a list of the top online scams of 2013.
- Gold – “Lookout! The sky is falling! And the only thing you can do to protect yourself is to trade in your worthless dollars for our gold certificate!”. There’s nothing wrong with owning gold, silver, gems, or any other precious mineral, but if the world really was crashing down then these companies that are BEGGING YOU to take their gold would be hoarding it themselves and getting ready for the Hunger Games.
- Free virus removal – “Just download this app and we’ll remove all the viruses we spotted on you phone”. Once again, always ask yourself ‘why is this company so eager to help me?’. It is possible that they have something other than your best interest in mind. My rule of thumb – if it doesn’t come from the app store, I don’t download it.
- Text Scam – A text comes in: “You just won a free Best Buy gift card! Click here to claim it!”. Man, I must be lucky because I don’t even shop at Best Buy. Sadly, many people fall for the scam, click the link, and either get their phone infected or answer dozens of personal questions in order to “claim your prize”. You can ignore their instructions to reply back with “Stop” if you wish to not receive messages. That is just a tactic they use to make sure they have a live number.
- Disaster Relief – If there is a Hell, I hope it has a special place for these scammers. All they do is wait for the next horrific tragedy to occur and then they flood the internet with requests for you to “Help the relief effort”. They collect MILLIONS in aid that well meaning people intended to reach the needy. Only give money to organizations you are familiar with or can go to: http://www.bbb.org/us/charity and look them up.
- Jobs – Man this one almost got me! I was hurting for some employment and I had been filling out applications for about 2 or 3 hours before I came across a website that supposedly had a lot of job listings in my field and it even promised to make the applications easier to submit through standardization (sort of how Monster.com does it). Well I was filling out the registration, my mind on dinner, when I realized I had just filled in the boxes for my name, address, phone, email, mother’s maiden (“as a security question”) and I was just about to type in my SSN when my brain screamed “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT!”. I stopped, cleared all the boxes, then looked up the website. Yup – a total fraud site.
As a bonus, here is a pretty good video I found about safely buying online
Be careful out there, everybody.