How to avoid cyber scams

People can fall prey to internet scams most any time, but when the economy is bad, even more people are victimized. Because they’re desperate to make money or find a job, too often unsuspecting people lose not only their savings but their identity by not recognizing the signs of a scam.

What is Cyber Theft

Cyber theft is using computers, as well as communication systems to steal information electronically. By hacking into someone’s computer or into a group of computers, internet computer thieves can transfer funds into their own bank accounts.

Because considerable amounts of money can be stolen through illegally transfer internet theft is a growing concern. According to a Computer Crime Research Center article, the typical American company loses about six percent of its proceed to crime, fraud and theft, with most of due to deceptive internet means.

How Internet Scams Begin

Most scams begin by sending an email, luring computer users to share pertinent financial information such as credit cards and bank account numbers, as well as including usernames and passwords.

People are also scammed by regular postal mail. Sometimes a postal address is snagged by either a spyware program or spam email you may have replied to with your snail mail address in the reply.

How to Recognize an Internet Scam

A few general red flags can label suspicious emails as fraudulent. Here are tips for recognizing a scam.

  • Don’t click on links or respond to emails asking for personal or account information, including user details.
  • Never send anything to strangers who email you asking for money or personal information.
  • Be suspicious of unsolicited emails that include attachments and do not click on attachments. Especially, ignore links and responses to emails asking for personal or account information, including user details.
  • Don’t clink on email links to groups and organizations of which you’re not a member. Reputable sites such as Paypal and Amazon will never send you email if you’re not already a member.
  • Don’t respond, by clicking on links to competition or lottery emails that you have never signed up for, If you you’ve never entered a competition you can’t win anything.
  • Don’t use weak, simple or default passwords on online sites.
  • Ignore pop-up ads or links in email offers as often these are phony sites disguised as legitimate retail sites.
  • Be leery of holiday coupon offers and gift cards sent in emails as these usually have malicious links with the offer that can result in downloading information-stealing Trojans or hackers seeking bank account information.

Examine URLs in Email Links

By studying the real URL address the user can identify a phony address. This is done by looking at the status bar found at the bottom of a browser screen. By hovering the mouse cursor above the link, the URL should appear in the status bar, pointing to the main domain of the company. Any discrepancy of the authentic domain (even if the server is secure) is a fraud. This can lead to virus infection and hackers trying to steal your information and identity.

Because most people are basically greedy, there’s always a temptation to see if something is really true. But if something appears to be too good to be true, it probably is a scam. But by following common senses and identifying the signs of fraud you can stay safe online without being a victim of fraud.

Ways to Avoid Online Scams While Freelancing

An unfortunate side to internet freelancing is the presence of scams. The scams seem to bombard freelancers from every corner of the net. The truth is, scammers are hard at work trying to steal every bit of money they can get their hands on. They use flashy websites, videos, and other forms of online promotion to make themselves look as legit as possible. There are simple and easy ways to avoid online scams.

Online Scams: How Freelancers can recognize scam websites

Scam websites are usually very typical. It’s usually one page that looks like a bad template, plenty of bold and red over-sized text, yellow highlighting on words, flashy red text, and seems to go on forever. Scroll down to the bottom and there will be a box that wants information such as a name and email address or even a phone number.

Even if a website does not look like a scam site, proceed with caution. Scammers are getting wise to the fact that people are now able to recognize them and are making more legit-looking websites.

One of two things will happen from this point. Either they will sell the provided information to various companies that sell marketing lists or they will make an unauthorized transaction from a debit or credit card that may have been provided to them via the registration process, or both.

Online Freelance Business Scams

Craigslist is a hotbed for all scam activity. Many freelancers post in the services section and many scammers respond to those posts. What’s worse is that newer ones are popping up every day. So while most freelancers may have all of the common scammers’ emails thrown into the spam folder, these people are working hard to recruit more scammers, often promising victims of poverty from foreign nations a lot of money that they’ll never see in order to get them to further their schemes. They’ll use email hoaxes and similar phishing scams to try to obtain sensitive information.

Criagslist scammers typically use phrases such as:

  • “This website is great! I made $xxxx! It’s amazing! You must try it!”
  • “Did you lose your job?”
  • “I am interested in your services, may I please have your phone number?” – Notice how they offer no specific or relevant information regarding what they want other than a phone number.
  • “Are you looking to make money? Try x.”

The list continues to widen as scam artists find more and more creative ways to try to scam small business owners. They even go on the other side of the track and post in the jobs section.

The following elements are red flags for scam ads:

  • Ads promising more than the going rate
  • Ads that require paid registration at an external website
  • Ads with very little detail regarding the nature of work and/or pay

This type of user-misconduct is not just limited to craigslist but can occur on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These sites all have their own ways of dealing with this issue. Unlike Craiglist, social networking sites have an authority figure that is easier to access, therefore making it easier to report these scams.

Online Scams Want Money

Scam artists either make money by selling private information or by stealing money directly. Keep an eye out for these types of scams.

Some helpful ways to avoid scams are:

  • Look for the red flags mentioned above
  • Never sign up for a website that requires a paid registration or a “membership fee”. There are dozens of free websites for freelance jobs.
  • Use “captcha” images on any forms on a business website
  • Never respond to offers for bank account transfers or wiring money. People from foreign countries such as Nigeria have been using these email scams for years to try to obtain sensitive information.

Reputable Freelance Websites

There are several reputable freelance websites that offer legit opportunities.

Some of these sites are:

  • Odesk.com
  • elance.com
  • rentacoder.com
  • scriptlance.com

While these may be some of the more popular websites, there are also some websites that aren’t as popular that may offer freelance opportunities with less competition. Be sure to search for each new website using Google to be sure that the website does not have a negative reputation.

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