Our dependence, or shall we say overdependence, on being online can lead to a lot of grief. There are just too many scammers online waiting to catch you unawares and steal your money using all kinds of tricks. It useful to be aware of the many such tricks in play and understand how to stay safe from such scams. The article below helps you with just that. Team RetyrSmart
“Using a FREE WiFi at an airport cost me more than $ 700” Beware of this and other online scams
FREE TRIAL OFFER! (JUST PAY FOREVER)
How it works: You see an Internet offer for a free one-month trial of some amazing product—often a teeth whitener or a weight-loss program. All you pay is $5.95 for shipping and handling.
What’s really going on: Buried in fine print, often in a colour that washes into the background, are terms that obligate you to pay $79 to $99 a month in fees, forever.
Avoidance manoeuvre: Read the fine print on offers, and don’t believe every testimonial. Reputable companies will allow you to cancel, but if you can’t get out of a “contract,” cancel your card immediately, then negotiate a refund; if that doesn’t work, appeal to your credit card company.
THE HOT SPOT IMPOSTER (HE’S CLOSE, REAL CLOSE)
How it works: You’re sitting in an airport or a coffee shop and you log into the local Wi-Fi zone. It could be free, or it could resemble a pay service like Boingo Wireless. You get connected, and everything seems fine.
What’s really going on: The site only looks legitimate. It’s actually run by a nearby criminal from a laptop. If it’s a “free” site, the crook is mining your computer for banking, credit card, and other password information. If it’s a fake pay site, he gets your purchase payment, then sells your card number to other crooks.
Avoidance manoeuvre: Make sure you’re not set up to automatically connect to nonpreferred networks. Before traveling, buy a Visa or MasterCard gift card to purchase airport Wi-Fi access so you won’t broadcast your credit or debit card information. Or set up an advance account with providers at airports you’ll be visiting. And don’t do any banking or Internet shopping from public hot spots unless you’re certain the network is secure.
THE NOT-SO-SWEET TWEET (IT’S A REAL LONG SHOT)
How it works: You get a “tweet” from a Twitter follower, raving about a contest for a free iPad or some other expensive prize: “Just click on the link to learn more.”
What’s really going on: The link downloads a “bot” (software robot), adding your computer to a botnet of “zombies” that scammers use to send spam email.
Avoidance manoeuvre: Before clicking on a Twitter link from a follower you don’t know, check out his profile, “If he’s following hundreds of thousands of people and nobody is following him, it’s a bot,” – a good tip to keep in mind for how to protect yourself online and avoid being scammed.
YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED! (AND WE CAN HELP)
How it works: A window pops up about a legitimate-sounding antivirus software program like “Antivirus XP 2010” or “SecurityTool,” alerting you that your machine has been infected with a dangerous bug. You’re prompted to click on a link that will run a scan. Of course, the virus is found—and for a fee, typically about $50, the company promises to clean up your computer.
What’s really going on: When you click on the link, the bogus company installs malware—malicious software—on your computer. No surprise, there will be no clean-up. But the thieves have your credit card number, you’re out the money, and your computer is left on life support.
Avoidance manoeuvre: If you get a pop-up virus warning, close the window without clicking on any links. Then run a full system scan using legitimate, updated antivirus software like free editions of AVG Anti-Virus or ThreatFire AntiVirus.
DIALING FOR DOLLARS (WITH A RING OF FRAUD)
How it works: You get a text message on your cell phone from your bank or credit card issuer: There’s been a problem, and you need to call right away with some account information. Or the message says you’ve won a gift certificate to a chain store—just call the toll-free number to get yours now.
What’s really going on: The “bank” is a scammer hoping you’ll reveal your account information. The gift certificate is equally bogus; when you call the number, you’ll be told you need to subscribe to magazines or pay shipping fees to collect your prize. If you bite, you will have surrendered your credit card information to “black hat” marketers who will ring up phony charges.
Avoidance manoeuvre: Real banks and stores might send you notices via text message (if you’ve signed up for the service), but they never ask for account information. If you’re unsure, call the bank or store directly.
WE ARE THE WORLD (THE WORLD OF CHARITY SCAMS, THAT IS)
How it works: You get an email with an image of a malnourished orphan—from Haiti or another developing nation. “Please give what you can today,” goes the charity’s plea, followed by a request for cash. To speed relief efforts, the email recommends you send a Western Union wire transfer as well as detailed personal information—your address and your Social Security and checking account numbers.
What’s really going on: The charity is a scam designed to harvest your cash and banking information. Nothing goes to helping disaster victims.
Avoidance maneuver: Donate to real charities on their own websites. Find the sites yourself instead of clicking on links in email solicitations. Genuine aid organizations will accept donations by credit card or check; they won’t ask for wire transfers, bank account information, or Social Security numbers. Donations via text message are okay as long as you confirm the number with the organization.
LOVE FOR SALE (THE CRUELLEST CON)
How it works: You meet someone on a dating site, on Facebook, in a chat room, or while playing a virtual game. You exchange pictures, talk on the phone. It soon becomes obvious that you were meant for each other. But the love of your life lives in a foreign country and needs money to get away from a cruel father or to get medical care or to buy a plane ticket so you can finally be together.
What’s really going on: Your new love is a scam artist. There will be no tearful hug at the airport, no happily-ever-after. You will lose your money and possibly your faith in humankind.
Avoidance manoeuvre: Dating and social-networking sites can be a great way to meet new friends, even from foreign countries. But if someone you know only from the Web asks for money, sign off quickly and follow these other tips for keeping yourself safe from online dating scams.
A TERRIBLE SCAM-AZON (YES, THAT DEAL REALLY IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE)
How it works: You’re doing some online shopping, as one does. You see what looks like a great deal on Amazon, a site you totally trust, and place an order.
What’s really going on: The seller’s a scammer; they’re going to send you a counterfeit product, or nothing at all, and they’ll still get your money.
Avoidance manoeuvre: Watch out for new sellers (also known as “just launched” sellers), and take a careful look at the seller’s reviews before you buy from him or her. If you do fall victim to a scam, contact Amazon; their A-to-Z guarantee says that they have to refund you if you received a fake product (or none at all).
HITMAN SCAM (THIS ONE’S KILLER)
How it works: You get an email (or a text) from someone saying he’s been hired to kill you, or to kidnap a family member. He’ll insist you send a large amount of money to a certain email address in exchange for your safety. Usually, the email will also warn you against contacting the authorities.
What’s really going on: There is no assassin. Somebody found your email address randomly (along with hundreds of others) and just wants your money.
Avoidance manoeuvre: If you get one of these scary messages, the best thing to do is to ignore it. Responding to the scammer clues them in that they have reached a live account, and they’ll probably respond with more aggressive threats. No one wants that. Also, go ahead and contact the authorities; the better to stop the scammer in his tracks.
TRAVEL SCAMS (DON’T GET WANDER-LOST)
How it works: You get an email advertising an amazing deal on airline tickets to some exotic destination. Or, you see such a deal on the social media account of what appears to be a legitimate airline.
What’s really going on: Like the “free trial” scam, these travel scams often have all sorts of extra costs hidden in the fine print behind that alluring cheap price. Most likely, you’ll end up with a lighter wallet and no plane ticket.
Avoidance manoeuvre: Scour the details of the offer before clicking any sort of confirmation button, and certainly before giving any payment information. Make sure that what you see really is what you get. And, even if you crave a solo trip, it can’t hurt to get a second pair of eyes as well. Another good tip is just to stick to travel agencies you trust; there are plenty of legitimate sites that still offer good deals..