The web offers a lot of great things, but one offering that hasn’t changed over the years is its never-ending supply of scams. The internet is just one of many ways to communicate, so like phone and mail scams, internet scams are an easy way for scammers to steal information or money. Some scammers get inventive and come up with new ways to rip people off, while others stick to tried and true methods.
One new scam was just announced by the IRS: scammers are sending emails saying they’re from “e-Services Registration” and are attempting to get e-Services users to “sign a new agreement.” (e-Services is a set of tools that can be used to file tax information with the IRS.) The agreement is a fake, and the scammers are simply trying to steal log-in information and other data.
Another recent scam focuses on a popular use for the web—purchasing pets. Many people use the internet to try to find a new companion animal, and in a lot of cases, this system works well. Unfortunately, though, the Better Business Bureau recently warned that pet sales are a new way for scammers to steal your money. Scammers might post about a puppy for sale, take your money, and then never bring your puppy to you. A large number of people have already been taken in by this scam.
New scams aren’t the only ones to watch out for. Some old scams just won’t go away, and it might be difficult to remember what they all are. One old scam to watch out for involves finding “the one.” Scammers will create false profiles in order to draw someone into a relationship and potentially get them to fall in love. The scammer will say they really want to meet, but unfortunately, they need the money for a ticket to fly where you are. They might also need money for other things, like utility bills or rent. They won’t come to meet you—they’ll just take your money. There are other older scams still out there, too, like Craigslist scams, the friend-in-trouble scam (someone posing as a friend who was mugged, hurt, etc. and needs money wired to them), and fake computer infection scams. These are just a few of the ways scammers still manage to con people.
It’s important to remember that while the internet can be a wonderful place, it’s also an avenue for scams. You don’t need to be paranoid, but you should certainly be wary of anything that asks for your personal information, asks you to click on a link that doesn’t look legitimate, or requires that you send money. You can always Google an email you receive that looks suspicious, and you can look up whether certain companies actually do send emails asking for certain personal information. It’s also really helpful to keep up with what’s going on in the world of scams. Some useful websites to consider are linked below:
- USA.gov’s Common Scams and Frauds
- The Federal Trade Commission’s Scam Alerts
- The IRS’ Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts
- The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center
- Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker
Keeping up with current scams can help you stay alert to new scamming attempts you might see on the internet. If you keep aware of internet safety, you should be able to avoid being a scammer’s next victim.