Online fraud 2015: new versions of classic scams
Online frauds evolve creatively; every year there are new forms of scams that attempt to obtain personal information, credit card numbers, pin numbers, or passwords.
The most common is that classic scams are updated and adapted to new trends. In the previous infographic summarizes the most common frauds for 2015, with their new versions and variants.
How to detect these scams?
Some basic recommendations help you avoid these scams, and even protect you against the new versions that could appear in 2016.
- Check the contact information and the company’s information. For example, any website should have a legal notice with the company’s complete tax information.
- Be wary of prizes, gifts, free products, or products at very low prices. No one ever gives something away just because.
- Do not pay any advance for anything. Especially not for anything that you have not directly requested yourself.
- Look for reviews and opinions in forums. If anyone has been in the same, or a similar, situation, they will likely have commented about it.
- If you have any questions, contact the company by phone. This is the easiest and most direct way to clarify them, and if you have any doubts, do not continue.
Growth in this sales channel has gone hand-in-hand with increased online fraud. The most common are fake sellers, who set up profiles on platforms or marketplaces and at some point in the transaction they ask you to complete it outside of the platform with the excuse that you will save some money. Once the purchase is completed, you do not receive anything and the seller disappears.
Identity theft (phishing)
This is one of the most frequent online scams. The most well-known version is by email, where the scammers pass themselves off as bank, postal, or tax entities, and they ask you to confirm your personal and bank information to start service or access new services.
In 2015, with the emergence of Netflix in Spain, scammers took the opportunity to pass themselves off as the company and ask you to reconfirm your information in order to continue with the service.
Another recent identity theft technique is a phone call from a person pretending to be a representative of Google, telling you that Google Maps is now a paid service, so if you wish to continue appearing on the map, you will need to pay a small amount.
There is also an identity theft technique using Microsoft. Scammers call a company or person claiming to be from a technical support team, telling you that there is a virus or some kind of technical problem, and they ask you if they can connect remotely to your computer to verify and solve the problem. Once on your computer, they have access to all of your information and all data.
You won a prize!
A classic scam, which was made popular by letter years ago. They inform you that you have won prize drawing or bet and ask for your personal and bank information plus a small advance to cover supposed handling charges to transfer the prize to you.
In 2015, the most widespread version of this online scam is the free iPhone or iPad scam. Through banners or email, you are redirected to a website where the iPhone or iPad is available, but not quite so free (though they assure you that it is a minimal cost for shipping or handling costs), and once they have your bank account information, they charge another amount to you, which can be more than if you had bought it at the full price. Sometimes, if they have access to your information, they charge you the amount even if you have not authorized it. In any case, the prize turns out to be very expensive for you.
Other hooks tried out this year are those related to trips on social media. Websites or profiles that offer free plane tickets, fake travel drawings, incredible promotions available immediately...and the result? Just like in the previous example, you end up paying more than a normal purchase price, or getting unauthorized charges.
Advance fee or transfer
A very popular online scam is known as 416 or the Nigerian fraud, in which a supposedly rich family or person in Africa, asks you for your information to transfer to you an inheritance that they cannot collect in their own country. What they attempt to do is obtain your bank account information to get a small amount of money in exchange for transferring you a larger amount.
The methods for getting this transfer or advance fee have become more aggressive. In another scam, they offer to settle a debt for a lower amount than the amount due, of course, in exchange for an advance fee. Just like in the previous scam, they obtain the payment that you make in advance and your bank account information.
A much more aggressive version, which has been spreading over the past year, especially in the United States, is the threat of getting full or partial payment of the debt. The scammers contact you to tell you that they have purchased your debt and they demand payment with threats and coercion. Of course, they have no rights to the debt, therefore the payment is just lost, worsening the person’s existing financial problems.