Avoid Internet Scams Like a Guru

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Phony web pages and phishing emails

Phishing is the most known internet scam. It is a modern-day con game. Phishing is when a digital thief lures you into giving out your password information through convincing web pages and emails. These phishing sites and web pages look like real credit authorities, like eBay, PayPal, or Citibank. They will scare or entice you to visit a fake website and enter your ID or login and password.

Normally, the guise is to confirm your identity. They will often give you a story about how your account was hacked in order to get you to enter your information.

The email will require that you click on a link. Instead of taking you to the real “https” website, it takes you to a fake website. You then enter your information, which is intercepted by someone who will access your account and steal hundreds of dollars from it.

The con will depend on the people who fall for the fake webpages and emails.

Tip: the beginning of the URL should contain HTTPS. A phishing fake will have HTTP. If you still doubt it, call the financial institution to verify the email. If it seems suspicious to you, don’t trust it.

Being skeptical may save you money.

419 scam, or the Nigerian scam

nigeria scam

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Most of us have received an email from a Nigerian family that has plenty of wealth. It is a cry for help for getting large sums of money out of the country. The most common one is about a woman in Africa claiming her husband has died, and that she wants to leave her money to a good church.

In each variation, the scammer will promise a large amount of money for small tasks. This scam is way too good to be true. Yet, there are people who still fall for the money transfer scam.

They will use your willingness to help and emotions against you. They will often promise you a large cut of their family fortune. All that you have to do is cover the endless legal fees and other fees that have to be paid before the money is released.

The more you pay the more money they will take from you. You won’t ever see any of the money, because it’s fake. What is worse is that this scam isn’t new – it goes back to the 1920s when it was referred to as the Spanish Prisoner con.

Lottery scam

lottery scam

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Most of us dream of winning the lottery, quitting that 9 to 5 job, and being able to retire young enough to enjoy all the finer things in life. Chances are that you will receive an intriguing email saying you have won a large amount of money, but all the dreams of what you could do with the money may make you forget that you never entered that lottery to begin with.

The scam comes in the form of a regular email message. It will inform you that you have won a large sum of money and congratulate you on that. There is a catch: before you can collect your money, you have to pay thousands of dollars for a processing fee.

The moment you see that, STOP! Once you give up that sum of money, you lose. Once you realize you have been conned for thousands, they are long gone, as is your hard-earned money.

Advanced fees paid for a credit card or guaranteed loan

approved loan

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If you have been thinking about applying for a pre-approved credit card or a loan that charges an upfront fee, you need to ask yourself why a bank would do that. These are the scams that are obvious to those who really take their time to research the offer.

Remember: a reputable credit card company will charge an annual fee but the fee is never applied at sign-up. If you clear your balance each month, a legitimate bank will sometimes wave the annual fee.

As for these amazing pre-approved loans – use common sense. These people don’t know your credit card situation, yet they will offer you large credit limits.

Alas, there is a percentage of people that will take the bait and pay the fee. If only one in a thousand people fall for the scam, then the scammer still wins hundreds of dollars. Far too many victims are often pressured by financial issues that make them step into this trap.

Items for sale, or overpayment scam

overpayment scam

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This scam involves an item you have listed for sale, such as a vehicle. The scammer will find your ad and send you an email offering to pay more than your asking price. The reason for paying more is related to international fees to ship the vehicle overseas. In return, you will send them the car and the cash for the difference.

The money order that you get will look real and so you will deposit it into your account. In a few days or the time it takes to clear, the bank will inform you it was a fake and will demand that you pay the amount back.

In most of the documented versions, the money order was real but it wasn’t authorized by the bank that it was stolen from. When it comes to cashier’s checks, it is normally a forgery.  Now you have lost the car, the cash you sent with it, and now you owe the bank to cover the bad money order or cashier’s check. How’s that for a profitable deal?

Once again, being skeptical may save you a lot of money. To avoid internet scams like a guru, you have to remember one simple truth – there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

[Featured image credit: Alamy / Image cropped, mixed with other image, color filters applied]

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