Welcome back to another internet centered discussion brought to you by Fishnet! As always, we are your partner in promoting healthy, responsible, and smart utilization of the internet.
Now that we have established that the internet is a pretty great place which carries both benefits and threats, we feel it is important to explore those threats further. After all, one of the best things that a person can do to avoid falling into a trap is to know that such a trap does, in actuality, exist, right?
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at about two common internet scams which are still pretty alive and well in the year 2018. Of course, we’re not content with just clarifying the threats. We want to empower you guys on how to effectively avoid them and what to do in the event that you end up falling for it anyway. Let’s get started!
1.) Phishing Sites and Emails
What is It
The whole concept of ‘phishing’ is not anything new in the world of the internet. In fact, it is one of the oldest tricks in the book, so to speak. When you are ‘phished’, a program that is usually embedded in the site you’re visiting or the email you’re reading. It hides behind a link that you will usually have to click.
Once the link is selected, the program triggers and either:
- Takes note of and record your present username and password for the email account you’re using
- Hijack the said email account
- Copy the person’s contact list and automatically send out a phishing email to others
There are other objectives for the phishing emails but those are the most common ones. Usually, a phishing email or site will try to present itself as a legitimate brand—usually a bank. Scoundrels generally calculate the odds that a person will be using a particular bank and send an email saying that their account has been compromised or that there have been odd large purchases. In order to process the dispute, it tells the user to log in their username, password, and the account number for the bank account.
When that is done, you have successfully given over the information that they needed in order to access your bank.
How to Avoid It
Phishing emails and websites try its hardest to pass off as legitimate. They will try to copy the original headers, the greetings, and they will even try to sign off using the name and position of the relevant individual. However, there are certain things that you can always check in order to see if the email or the site is legitimate:
- Checking the URL – the official site will never have numbers embedded in the URL
- Read for any grammatical errors – a lot of the time, the criminals aren’t from places which use English as a first language so there will be several grammatical errors in phishing emails
- Regularly do a search for common phishing tactics – when you are actively trying to learn more regarding phishing trends and tactics, you lessen the likelihood you becoming a victim of it
What to Do When Phished
Even if you do take every precaution to watch out for phishing sites or emails, they keep changing so you may end up falling for it still. So what do you do when you’ve been phished?
Change Your Passwords
If you have other accounts in that computer, phone, or gadget that you’re presently logged into, it would be in your best interest to change all of the passwords.
Scan Your System
Anti-virus programs have a regular schedule when they scan your system but you can also do a manual scan. Have your anti-virus program do an immediate diagnostic to see if you have been laid vulnerable to a phishing attack.
Notify the Copied Website or Brand
A lot of the time, banks and big brands do not get reports of phishing attempts because a lot of users legitimately believe that they are accessing official links and giving their information to official employees or representatives—not really realizing until it’s too late that they’ve been duped.
When you have been duped, it is very important that you do not keep this information to yourself. Instead, contact the very brand that has been used to obtain your information. If you were duped by a site that copied your bank, notify your bank immediately. This will let them know that their site has been copied and they can warn others from falling for the same problem.
They can also help you obtain your security back.
2.) Employment Search Result Scam
What Is It
The net has significantly helped with trying to find employment for many. One merely needs to sign up with a job search website, share their credentials or work experience, or even upload a resume with their contact information. From then, the person merely needs to either wait to be contacted after they have sent in an application to a particular company or business.
Another boon is that they can be contacted—without any provocation—by any interested parties which have viewed their resume and think that they are suitable candidates. The trouble begins when fraudulent individuals send emails to people claiming to be companies that are interested in hiring. The usual approach is that they will claim to be a foreign company that is seeking to gain a foothold in your country.
They will usually claim that they cannot process transactions with parties in your country and will need you as a “financial representative” or the “head of the local branch” to accept payments and forward them to your employer.
What will happen is that you will start receiving checks that you will have to forward. You will supposedly be receiving a cut from each check that you forward. The trouble starts when the checks start to bounce and your bank will be coming after you for making transfers that do not amount to anything. They will be pursuing you to pay back the amount that they have forwarded to the “company you work for”. Another usual consequence is that you can find your personal bank depleted or your identity stolen.
How to Avoid It
Whenever you receive a job offer, do proper research. Here are a few points that you can use to guide you in your search:
- Is the company an actual existing one?
- Have there been reports of this brand being used in scams?
It can be extremely tempting to think that you could be the future head of the local branch of a “strong company”. However, practicing diligence must always come first.
What to Do When Victimized
Alert Your Bank
Being honest with your bank is an important step. They can put transfers on hold or even cancel them. They can also put the company or the persons affiliated with the company on their blacklist. This way, whenever someone else tries to transfer to them, the bank will know right away that another person has been fooled and they with block the transaction.
This has now become possible because of the many other people that have spoken up about the scam that they have fallen prey to. If you have been duped, always notify the necessary parties—especially when your finances are involved.
Cease Communications Immediately
If you stop transfers, they will start to threaten you about “breaking the contract” and will even demand a fee from you. It would be in your best interest to stop talking to them.
We hope that today’s discussion help you to better understand what you should be avoiding and what to do next if you find yourself the unfortunate victim of one of these internet scams. Have you come across these scams in your internet use? If so, what happened?