Spotting Modern Online Scams

We’ve all been using the internet for so long now that we fancy ourselves pretty savvy about potential scams.  After all, nobody would believe the old “Nigerian prince” thing anymore and we all know not to open emails from unfamiliar email addresses, right?  Surely we’re all safe.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  As the public has become better informed and more careful online, scammers have gotten more inventive.  There are new scams out there that you need to be aware of.

There’s free wi-fi everywhere these days.  It’s become so common that we expect it from restaurants, bars, and other businesses.  Some ISPs even set up public hotspots on their own.  However, bad actors can set up those innocent-looking hotspots, too.  And once you connect to them, your data is ripe for the picking.  A little common sense goes a long way in this situation.  Make sure you know the network you’re connecting to and make it a rule to never do any shopping or banking over a public wi-fi connection.  For extra protection, you might consider getting a VPN to safeguard your private information.

The tried and true pop-up is still out there, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting.  Sometimes, you’ll see the old warning that your computer is infected (click on that and it certainly will be!), but modern pop-ups tend to be ads that then redirect you to a dangerous site.  Hopefully, your antivirus will catch the redirect and block the threat, but an ad blocker is a more reliable way to keep pop-ups off your screen. 

The newest email scams are designed to look legitimate and use subject lines that scare you into acting before you think.  A couple of examples include messages with the headline “Your Paypal account has been suspended” or “Your Apple ID has been locked”.  Both of these common scams come from senders that show up as “Paypal” or “Apple”.  But the sender name to anything when an email account is created.  When you hover over the sender name, you see the full email address is nowhere near real.  Keep calm, don’t lose your head, and always check the email before you open any email that says your account is in trouble.

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