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Most common digital scams. Pixabay

In recent years, many of the world’s shopping and payment transactions happened over the Internet. However, as a result, this trend attracted more criminals and hackers to move their illicit activities online and exploit any vulnerabilities for money. As such, in 2020, the FBI reported that phishing and non-payment/delivery scams were two of the top reported cybercrimes. Additionally, in Q1-Q2 2021 alone, there’s an estimate of over $107 million lost from online scams. With these data and reports in mind, it’s clear that Internet fraud is an ever-growing issue with no sign of slowing down. Thus, if you’re looking to learn more about it, please read on. Below, we’ll discuss the most common online scams and how to avoid them.

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1. Email scam

Hackers and criminals use emails to send malicious links and harmful files to random or targeted recipients. In the process, a scam email typically disguises as someone else or a legitimate company by copying its photo, name, logo, or email address. If a recipient clicks the email, it might inject malware automatically into the computer, which can harm the device or OS, steal files, or install ransomware. Aside from that, a scam email might also contain links that redirect to phishing sites.

As safe practices, it’s best to ignore strange emails and not answer one after opening. Also, please don’t click any action or open links as these might lead to data or money stealing websites. Since most services like Gmail and Outlook offer fraud detection features, it’s ideal to use them and report suspicious emails as spam. However, if responding is necessary, using a tool like Spokeo to perform an email search would help check the sender’s identity and social profiles.

2. Phone call scam

Telephone scams are similar to email fraud but in the form of phone calls. Likewise, a criminal might pretend to be staff of a bank or other company calling to give a prize, promote opportunities, or help the recipient to solve a non-existent issue. Next, the hacker will ask for sensitive information like account credentials, bank records, and addresses or demand money to pay fake processing fees or registrations. If successful, someone can lose money or control of an account after only a phone call.


Telephone scams are similar to email fraud but in the form of phone calls. Pixabay

If one wants to avoid phone fraud, not answering calls from unknown numbers would help. Moreover, redialing or calling back strangers is also not advisable. During a call, it’s best not to disclose sensitive things like personal information and account details; remember, legitimate companies won’t ask for passwords, security codes, or other account verifiers. Lastly, to be sure, using Spokeo’s reverse phone lookup feature helps in reviewing a caller’s name and social media links or criminal records.

3. Online shopping scam

Online shopping scams came in many forms. For instance, someone might ghost a buyer after successfully receiving payment for a non-existent product for sale in an online marketplace. Apart from that, a hacker can also create a phishing site identical to a legitimate one and then capture buyers’ credit card data and steal money from fake checkouts. Typically, these criminals place enticing promotions or impossibly low markup on products to surely attract users.

When shopping online, checking the reviews for a product, seller, or website itself is ideal. By doing so, one can learn from the experiences of actual previous buyers and then judge whether the store is legitimate or not. Besides that, not paying too much upfront would also help. However, when unsure, using an email and phone number lookup tool like Spokeo is beneficial. With Spokeo’s email and phone number search features, it’s easy to learn a store or seller’s identity, social media accounts, and even criminal records.

4. Catfishing

Catfishing is the act of disguising as someone else to steal money or do harm to a person. In the process, a criminal might use social engineering and pretend as a relative or friend of a particular target through social media, messaging services, emails, or by phone. Next, a hacker will then ask for money for made-up reasons like accidents or other inconveniences. Aside from that, kidnappers and predators also use this method to learn a person’s current location or set a meetup in a particular place to perform harmful actions.


Catfishing is the act of disguising as someone else to steal money or do harm to a person. Pixabay

In avoiding catfish attempts, contacting existing accounts or numbers of a known friend or family would help in considering if the new request is actual or not. Additionally, it’s advisable to limit answers to questions, avoid giving names or addresses, and never sending money or other things. If it’s a request on a social media platform, copying the profile picture and examining it on Google Images search helps verify if the photo is real or taken from the web. Lastly, if it’s possible, asking for a video call is the best way to review someone’s identity.

5. Online booking and rental scam

Booking and rental scams are illegal activities carried out to steal money out of fake or incorrect listings. As such, a criminal might post non-existing or copied photos of properties from the web, ask for upfront payments like reservations, and then wholly ghosts the potential buyer. Besides that, others might also use misleading graphics to attract viewers into renting another inferior property. Regardless, while platforms like Airbnb, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace perform fraud detection efforts, it’s still hard to crack down on these scammers due to specific verification limitations.

If one wants to avoid such scams, reviewing client reviews would help identify the legitimacy of a user. Also, using the same Google Images search tool helps in learning if the property photos are real or taken from somewhere else. Finally, one can ask for additional proof or demand a video call to verify further if the listing is not just another scam.

ALSO READ: Report: 5 Indian Banks Targeted Into Phishing Scams

Beware Of The Common Online Scams

Everyone can easily pretend to be someone else or a company to steal data, money, and identity on the web. Accordingly, it’s best to thoroughly examine and decide before responding to messages and calls, sending money, disclosing sensitive information, and meeting someone. By following the above tips and suggestions, one can avoid the common scams that victimized countless people worldwide.

Maguire Haigh is a marketing manager for Spokeo. He is interested in the latest technology trends, marketing strategies, and business development. He also prefers traveling, exploring the world, and meeting new people. Maguire has great experience in creating and editing articles on different topics.

(Disclaimer: The article is sponsored and hence promotes some commercial links.)


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