By now, almost anyone with an email address has received some variation on the Nigerian-prince message from a cyber criminal looking for access to bank accounts. And by now, most people know to delete such messages, if they even open them at all; however, as with most Online Scams, as soon as one has all but run its course, another one pops up in its place.
Savvy Internet users can generally spot the obvious attempts, such as the aforementioned African royalty ploys and attachments sent from unknown sources.
Cyber criminals become savvier by the day, though, and are constantly developing new ways to part unsuspecting computer users from their data, their money and their identities. Consider whether you have seen any of these relatively new Online Scams:
Pinterest Spam Scams
Pinterest has become one of the most popular sites on the Web, attracting millions of users every day who want to save and share everything from recipes and funny quotes to ideal vacation destinations and dream-home ideas. Although the vast majority of pins come from legitimate users who pin or re-pin directly from blogs and online stores or magazines, there is a growing faction of spammers using Pinterest to spread malware.
The scam starts innocently enough: You spot a pin for a delectable dessert or cute craft and re-pin it to your board for your followers to then re-pin and so on. The trouble? When users click on the link, they aren’t taken to the recipe but to a bogus site that has nothing to do with the pin — and is likely to contain spyware or other harmful software.
Pinterest is cracking down on these spammers; however, be careful what you re-pin. Make sure your virus protection is up-to-date and check the URLs of the referring sites before you click “Pin.”
Malware Targeting Mobile Devices
It was only a matter of time before cyber criminals found a way to use the abundance of smartphones and tablets to commit their crimes. Mobile devices are most often used to spread malware that collects data from the phone — including your contacts and call logs — or can take over your phone from any location; if your device is taken over, criminals can then use it to send text messages or email, record your calls or download additional harmful apps.
If you use your phone for work, these types of attacks are especially worrisome, as criminals can then use your mobile device as a means to gain access to your employer’s network. To protect against such scams, treat your smartphone or tablet as you would your personal computer.
Establish a password for your device, install antivirus or anti-malware protection, avoid logging on using unsecured networks and only download apps from reputable sources.
Online Dating Scams
That charming guy on the dating site knows all the right things to say. It seems like you have everything in common. The problem? He’s overseas, either in the military or working for a company you’ve never heard of in Europe or Africa. As you become closer, he claims to be coming home and can’t wait to meet you.
And then something happens. His wallet is stolen, his visa is held up, he’s out of money — and he needs you to help him out. The trouble is this guy probably doesn’t exist, and he’s after your cash. Criminals have started cashing in on unsuspecting users of dating sites, using fake profiles to scam the lovelorn out of their savings.
Although dating sites are putting more controls in place to prevent these crimes, users still need to be aware of possible scams. Know the signs — claiming love after just a few interactions, sketchy details on their profiles, never calling you by your name and asking for financial assistance soon after meeting. Report these scammers to the dating sites and law enforcement, and never send money to someone you don’t know.
The Internet is a useful tool, but it’s also full of criminals looking to access money and information illegally. Knowing how to spot a Online Scams and keeping your computer and mobile devices adequately protected with virus software, firewalls, passwords and encryption will prevent you from becoming a victim — and keep your money and reputation safe.