The year 2002 is only three months old, but fraudsters are still scamming people on the internet. Besides using the same old tricks, they have even devised new schemes to attack your data and devices. So, it is vital to know where you are most vulnerable to keep alert.
The problem is that scams are becoming sophisticated, and it is difficult to differentiate what's real and what's not. However, there are common warning signs that you should watch out for, like requesting anonymous payments via gift cards or cryptocurrencies. Other red flags include asking for personal identifying information, immediate response, and demanding money in advance to win something.
This article has compiled some of the common scams you should look out for in 2022 and much more.
Popular internet scams
This is an old trick where the fraudster impersonates a legitimate business or person to lure you into providing your sensitive data or money. Unfortunately, it continues to dominate as it is easier to execute and gives criminals the credentials to conduct data breaches and identity thefts.
In fact, IBM indicates that compromised credentials contribute to around 20% of data breaches in companies. In most cases, they are gathered through phishing scams and take the longest to identify than other scams. The same report shows that nearly half of all breaches expose personal data like names, emails, and passwords, leading to more breaches.
First, you have to verify the authenticity of any link before clicking on it to avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam. However, some are sophisticated and look like a carbon copy of the genuine site. So, the best course of action is to open the site through the search engine instead of clicking on the link. Also, you can install an anti-phishing add-on in your browser.
Getting scammed once online is not the end of it, as recent incidences show that fraudsters are recycling their crimes. In fact, according to an Identity Theft Center report, a third of their clients have been scammed several times.
Moreover, other organizations like AARP say that seniors fall for scams more than once, also known as repeat clickers. However, it is unclear why a person can be repeatedly scammed with the same technique, especially phishing.
Cybersecurity experts indicate that some influences include being overworked, carelessness and narcissism. So, you should be on the lookout for repeated scams since scams are evolving and not going anywhere.
Ransomware is a malware type that takes control of your device or the entire system until you pay a ransom. It spread like a bush fire in 2021, affecting loads of large companies such as Panasonic, CD Project, etc. Moreover, the malicious software is also hitting oil and farming industries.
The US saw a 61% rise in ransomware attacks in 2021. Will the situation worsen in 2022? It is likely possible because the field is lucrative even as measures are implemented to combat the threat. For example, the US Department of Justice is issuing millions of dollars for information on ransomware groups like REvil, Conti, and Darkside.
There are measures you can take to protect yourself against ransomware attacks. For instance, you should never click unsafe links in spam messages or unknown websites. Also, never plug an unknown USB stick on your computer. Finally, install anti-ransomware software and maintain an offline backup for your data.
Gift card scams
A scam is successful when the fraudster tricks the victim and steals their data or money. The most preferred payment method is cryptocurrency because the transactions are impossible to track and reverse.
However, cybercriminals are also opting for an older method: gift cards. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, using gift cards as payment has increased, with $148 million stolen in 2021. So, if someone insists on gift card payment, you are likely getting scammed.
Cryptocurrencies have flourished recently as more people start to embrace them. However, this has also attracted fraudsters who want a piece of the pie.
There were several crypto scams in 2021, like the Squid Game token scam, bogus initial coin offerings (ICOs), and celebrities' impersonation. For example, a criminal impersonated Elon Musk and stole over $2 million worth of cryptocurrencies from investors.
The emergence of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) led to more scams like Evolved Apes, endless fake celebrity-backed tokens, and phishing. In addition, NFTs sold with stolen arts are on the rise.
Cryptocurrency scams exist in many forms, and there is no single way to avoid them. Also, there is no way to recover your coins if you’re your crypto wallet is hacked.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), romance scams caused losses of more than $304 million in 2020. This is a 50% increase from the previous year. Scammers are taking advantage of the isolation and loneliness due to the Covid-19 pandemic to scam people.
Unfortunately, anyone can become a victim of a romance scam, from young to the elderly. The scam works very simply: the scammer sources the victims from dating sites, hook them up with love, and eventually asks for money. A typical example is the Tinder Swindler documentary on Netflix where Shimon Hayut (Simon Leviev) stole over $10 million from different women across Europe.
Covid-19 infections may have been reduced worldwide, but fraudsters are still using it to scam people. They use different scamming tools such as phishing emails, robocalls, fake social media posts, impostor schemes, etc. In fact, the scammers are following the news closely and adapting their techniques as new economic and medical issues arise. For example, criminals are selling unauthorized or fake home rapid tests online.
Furthermore, vaccination passports emerged during the pandemic, and you cannot travel without one. Scammers are exploiting this by selling fake passports.
The best way to avoid a Coronavirus scam is to avoid downloading files or clicking on links from emails you didn't anticipate. Also, consult your doctor or local health department for testing concerns. Additionally, you shouldn't buy COVID-19 vaccination cards online but obtain them from legitimate vaccine providers.
Gen Z scams
The elderly are the most scammed age demographic. This is because of many reasons, such as unfamiliarity with technology. But scammers are also targeting Gen Z demographic as it accrues capital.
According to a report by Social Catfish, an online identity verification service, over 23,000 individuals under 21 years old were scammed in 2020. This is a 156% increase from 2017, and over $70 million were lost. The trend is alarming, although seniors are the number one target. An explanation for this is that the Gen Z demographic grew up online and became overconfident with sharing their details on the internet.
Standard precautions to avoid all scam types
Scams exist in many forms, and we cannot exhaust all of them in one article. Here is how you can identify scam signs.
- Grammatical errors – Always reread everything when you receive an email or text message, as scammers have a habit of leaving typos and punctuation mistakes. Again, this is a sign that it might be originating from a fraudster.
- Wrong URL – A scammer cannot use the legitimate website's address unless they have hacked it. So, always confirm that the URL is from the official site. You don’t have to open links if you are using a computer. Just hover the cursor over the link to see the address.
- Good deals – When shopping online, you will come across deals that seem too good to be true. It can probably be the case, so you should verify the site’s legitimacy and check reviews on sites like TrustPilot.
- Sensitive data – Avoid sharing your private information online as scammers can use it to scam you. Also, keep in mind that no legitimate website, bank, or online shop will ask for your login credentials.
Internet scammers never sleep and invent new ways to steal your information or money while mixing with old tricks. Knowing the common scams will enable you to mount the necessary defense. Also, you should employ essential security tools like antivirus, a VPN, and a firewall. Finally, you should use complex passwords and back up data.