Fraud in Internet: Tips for Detecting and Preventing Cyber-Fraud in 2021
Since it was first introduced almost four decades ago, the Internet has been progressing very quickly. It has evolved from a slow and cranky means of correspondence between a few academic and research facilities into the largest instrument of global communication. Unlike the invention of the radio and TV, which, while advanced the way we interacted and learned new information, did not transform those fundamentally, the creation of the Internet has revolutionized our lives, filling them with endless possibilities that seemed impossible just a while ago.
Today, the Internet has effectively permeated all niches of our activities – from studying and working to traveling, shopping, and forming relationships. As people are spending more time than ever online, there has been an increasing concern about fraud in internet, which has been on the rise lately. Let us look at what cybercrimes are and what modern means we have to fight those.
What is Internet fraud?
Internet fraud is an umbrella term that spans a broad range of crimes involving the use of Internet-enabled communication channels such as emails, texts, and live chats. The most widespread internet fraud examples include identity theft, the use of spyware and hacking into other people’s PCs, banking and healthcare fraud, fake work-from-home job offerings, sending out Nigerian scam emails, etc.
The motivation behind the majority of such internet frauds cases is to facilitate further crimes or obtain undue gain through ransom. Financial damages caused by internet fraud schemes are huge, with losses from identity theft alone being placed at around $721 billion in 2021.
Here is more about some widespread types of internet frauds:
Phishing or email fraud
This deceptive practice is used to steal the victim's personal information. Under this tactic, fraudsters, posing as a legitimate or reputable organization, send out emails meant to trick the person into visiting a phony website that collects their personal information and bank details. Furthermore, by clicking on any links within such phishing emails, the victim can unknowingly have a virus installed on their computer that will harvest sensitive information under the radar and send it over to the fraudsters.
Online shopping fraud
Internet scams and frauds aimed at online shoppers have grown most significantly over the past years. Scammers create bogus web-based shopping portals to defraud unsuspecting customers out of their money. These fake websites offer appealing products at lucrative prices; however, once the customer makes the payment, either the wrong product is delivered, or no merchandise is sent at all.
Identity theft refers to a crime where someone steals the victim’s personal information over the Internet to acquire unlawful financial gain, for instance, to take out a loan or apply for a credit card with a bank. When the victim does not repay their debt to these financial organizations in time, their credit history is tarnished, and they can even be blacklisted as a loan scammer.
This serious internet fraud case has become increasingly more prevalent since the Covid-19 pandemic forced millions of people out of their jobs. Swindlers behind these schemes take advantage of those looking for distance working possibilities. Job seekers are usually promised an exciting employment opportunity that pays well and does not take much time. Before starting, applicants have to deposit a certain sum of money as a downpayment for the tools and materials they will need in their work. Once the money is paid, potential employers disappear, never to be heard of again.
How to prevent Internet fraud?
The only way to improve the grim internet fraud statistics and avoid falling prey to con artists lurking online is by staying constantly alert and paying attention to the little details that can betray a scam. Here are a few recommendations to help you stay safe:
- Learn as much as you can about various Internet fraud tactics to recognize a scammer when you meet one.
- Keep your sensitive information duly protected – do not disclose your SSN to anyone unless you absolutely must.
- Do business only with trusted and well-established organizations and individuals whose credentials can easily be verified.
- Buy directly from manufacturers or their official representatives.
- Clarify any sale/return/replacement details before making a foreign online purchase.
In our fast-paced, busy world, staying vigilant is absolutely necessary if you do not wish to become yet another victim of an online crime. Hopefully, the above tips will make it easier for you to identify an Internet scam and make every online session safe and smooth sailing.