Verify, verify, verify!
Updated: Mar 4
Before moving on to more creative topics, a few words from Miss Gullible Newbie - the internet, and the world, isn't always what it seems. Email phishing and romance scams targeting men or women are two common tactics for gaining access to a person's computer or personal information, in addition to possibly asking for money which then may be used in international money laundering. Look alike websites or telephone calls claiming to be from your computer company are other common scams.
Your computer company is not going to personally call you to warn you about a virus on your computer, they are not going to ask you to let the caller take over remote access of your computer! If you call and ask for help with a computer issue with a tech support company (and likely are paying for the service), then it is possible for the support person to work on your computer with remote access, but a company is not going to call you to tell you they discovered a problem on your computer.
Some tips for avoiding internet scams:
Never click a link in an email unless you are sure you know that the email is from a reliable source. See: Avoid email phishing scams, Indiana U., (phishing.iu.edu). If interested and unsure, type out the website name in your own search engine browser and visit the site directly rather than clicking a link. Website addresses (URLs) that start with https:// instead of http:// may be more secure, suggested by the 's,' but some scam websites may also have the secure https:// URL. See: The HTTPS in your browser's address bar is important for staying safe on the web, Popular Science, popsci.
Check whether a business or news website seems real by looking at About or Press Release sections. Testimonials may be made up or written by someone who had been paid to endorse the product, however they may also be real. More information about the sections you might see on websites and some example images of real businesses: 3 Mindless Ways to Build Immediate Trust on Your Website, (jeffbullas.com) Look up the business or site name in Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) type of directories.
Look for reviews about the organization online by entering the name of the company and 'reviews' in the search engine browser.
Charities can be looked up in directories of non-profit organizations such as Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org).
Check whether a personal profile seems real or copied by entering the name in the search engine or variations of the name if known and see if any details about the profile or the image seem to be readily available online - and therefore readily available to be copied. See if details don't match with what you've been told. If something seems to good to be true, it probably isn't true.
If someone is trying to make a romantic connection on a social media site that isn't a dating site then they may be lonely or may be a romance scam. Are there frequent misspellings, odd uses of words or incorrect grammar as if the person is not using their primary language? If the account is a military person asking for money it is probably a scam even if it is a dating site. (U.S. army mil /social media/scams/tips)
If the account is talking about marriage or love almost immediately and about wanting to get to know you better, and promising to share more information about themselves, but then they never seem to provide much detail and never seem to respond to your questions, then it is likely a scam.
If they ask you to wire money or ask you to contact an email address about a package, it is probably a scam. The money wire company can look up names to see if the person has been flagged as a potential scammer. The exchange rate between the U.S. and many countries is so different that even a small amount of U.S. dollars can be a large amount of the foreign currency. (Finder.com/money transfer scams).
You can enter email addresses in the search engine and the email may turn up on sites with details about previously reported scams.
Love and trust are wonderful, so is verification of identity.
Some scams may be more about learning your personal information so it can be used to set up fake accounts for the purposes of wire transfers in international money laundering schemes or credit card accounts in your name. Or the information may be used to gain direct access to your bank accounts - it is always a good idea to examine your bank statements on a monthly basis for unusual charges even if you aren't checking the math.
For more information see: Warning Signs of Identity Theft, (identitytheft gov).
Contact your bank, credit card company, or wire transfer company (such as WellsFargo.com) to check for activity under your name or phone number.
/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes
within the guidelines of fair use./