The Secret to Avoiding Online Computer Scams
Nowhere is this old saying more true than on the Internet. 95% of Internet scams are designed to take advantage of the fact that we love getting something for nothing. The other 5% rely on the opposite fact: we hate to lose money.
Here’s a great example of the first kind of scam:
I received this official looking email from BillMeLater, a subsidiary of Paypal that offers a way of paying for merchandise online . It said I had a new $2,103.00 credited to my account. The goal was to get me to click the link, and enter my user ID and password into a fake website so they could record the keystrokes and steal my account information.
What they didn’t account for was that I noticed by hovering over the email link, I saw it would direct me to petswonderland.com.my. I doubt Paypal keeps all their money in Malaysia.
The Nigerian email scam works in a similar way. You get an email promising you a huge sum of money if you will only wire a small up-front payment to defray costs. Like the scam above, the Nigerian email scam (I’ve seen them from every country) prays on your desire to get something for nothing.
Sometimes emails work by employing fear too. Here’s one supposedly from the Better Business Bureau telling me I have an angry customer, and that I can find out who it is by opening up a zip file (sometimes this scam asks you to open a DOC, PDF or run an EXE program too).
But think about it: would the BBB make the amateur mistake of addressing an email as “Dear Sirs”?
So what’s the secret to avoiding online computer scams? If an email is playing on your emotion – greed or fear – it is probably a scam. Don’t ever click a link, enter a user ID or password, download a file or open an attachment if it seems suspicious. And don’t assume that because it is from a friend, it is okay. Hijacking email accounts is easy for a computer hacker.
Besides, what would you do with $3 million Nigerian dollars anyway?
Have any scams you’d like to share? Put them in the comments below.
Tags: businesspermalink |