From Nigerian princes looking to give all their wealth away to total strangers to that long-lost yet unbelievably rich aunt (twice removed from the family tree) who died leaving you as her only heir, there are all kinds of scammers on the internet. In fact, internet and scammers go hand in hand.
Be it email, an instant messaging service, or just a generally deceptive website, there is nary a corner of the internet that hasn’t been infiltrated by scammers. While most of us have learned to watch out for these scams, many people are still caught unawares by unscrupulous thieves online.
Recently, Pakistanis have also proven to be the victim of a number of scam attacks. There has been a kind of virus going around on Facebook where some users’ profiles automatically post an image (poorly disguised as a video) along with a number of links on all their friends’ profiles. When a user clicks on such a link, their own profiles start doing the exact same.
In other news, a deceptive website disguised as a coupon website for KFC also fooled many Pakistanis. Little scams like these are present out there and looking to trick people. Although most of them end up just wasting our time, some also end up proving a lot more harmful.
Here, we have compiled a list of the most basic things you should watch out for to spot scams on the internet.
How to Watch Out for Scams on the Internet
If an offer seems to good to be true, it probably is
If the website/mail/message is offering something that is too good to be true without demanding anything in return, it is probably a scam. Scammers aren’t known for their rationality. Most of the time, they will just end up offering something too great just to entice you.
Shoddy Website Design
If the website is haphazardly designed with a weird UI, with logos all over the place or is just messy overall, it is probably a fake website. Scammers tend to be notoriously lazy and even worse web developers, a fact that us users can use to find online scammers easily. There are some who would try their best to fool you and actually work hard for it, but most of them are just too lazy to put in any real effort.
Along with a bout of laziness, scammers are also prone to using bad grammar or have spelling mistakes. Sometimes, it is so obvious that it’s almost laughable. Professionalism is the absolute necessity for any business, be it offline or online. If you want to be taken seriously, there is no compromise on grammar or spelling. So if you come across an email informing you that you have won a “millon dollars” (with typos and all), reply back with a link to learning the English language. Or not.
They Really Don’t Care about Privacy
If a website requires too many details from you, there is probably something fishy going around. Apart from the crop of famous social networking websites, try not to provide more data than you seem reasonable to anyone, anywhere. There are certain apps or services, like mapping applications or coupon code sites, that do need the details to function properly but regardless, you need to be careful with divulging your personal information.
Password and Account Info
Never give out your password or critical account information like security questions, login codes, etc. on the internet. Even if a service requires to log-in to a social network (like Facebook), there is no reason it will require your password to do that.
Check the Source
It is always a good idea to check the source behind the potential scam. It will take just a few minutes of googling.
If it is a company, check out their website and/or social media profiles to see if they seem legit. If it is a person, just google their name and see if a profile comes up. If it does, check it out! A fake profile is evident by the fact that they would have either no comments on their posts or have comments that are too similar in nature.
Reviews and Feedback
You can always rely on feedback from other users, but if you do not know them personally, do check out if they seem like real people from their profiles. Today, there are a number of services that provide bots (fake profiles) which can be bought to leave fake comments/reviews. As an extra precaution, watch out if the reviews or comments seem too overwhelmingly positive (or are too less in number). If they are, that is one big red flag.
No Copyright or About Section on Website
You should be able to find a link to the website’s about or contact section very easily, either on the top of the page or at the very bottom. It is not possible for a company to have a website and not have an easily accessible Copyright claim and About Sections.
This is more of a tip than a red flag to watch out for. Like I said above, scammers are lazy. They will use the exact same text that they have already used on someone before out of sheer laziness. Chances are, that someone who has experienced a scam might have shared their story online. Just copy/paste a few phrases from the message/mail or the name of the person/company and Google it to see if something comes up! Sites like Snopes also help in judging the truthfulness of a rumor.
“There are good people everywhere, but no one will hand you a hen that lays gold eggs just because they had no place to keep it.”
In the end, it all comes to your own judgement and common sense. People on the internet don’t just win a million dollars out of thin air. Some of you may get lucky, but the chances are too low to lose your trust over every stranger or pop up that says that you won a million rupees just by being online.
Image Credits — LifeHacker