Internet fraud is more common than you may think. Various scams like phishing have become more popular, and 10% of U.S. adults become victims of internet fraud.
Cybercriminals will never go away, but consumers can protect themselves and detect fraud before it gets out of control. The sooner you uncover fraud, the quicker you can take action and minimize the damage. This guide will cover strategies to find internet fraud so you can increase your online security.
1. Monitor your accounts
Checking your bank accounts is a good practice that can help you stay on top of your financial goals. You can see how much money is left in your checking account to minimize the likelihood of an overdraft fee. While these are two common reasons people check their bank accounts often, this habit serves another purpose.
Monitoring your bank accounts and credit card statements can help you detect fraud in its early stages before it becomes more serious. If you detect suspicious transactions, you can freeze your accounts and contact your bank.
2. Get a free copy of your credit report
Reviewing your credit report serves a similar purpose as monitoring your accounts. Your credit report gives you a snapshot of your credit history, and you can see suspicious activity on this report. If you have any loans, credit cards and other financial obligations that you do not recognize, let your bank know.
You can request a free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Obtaining a free copy of your credit report and monitoring your financial accounts can limit the damage if you become a victim of internet fraud. It’s good to take these protective measures, but it is even better to make sure no damage takes place. The other strategies on this list can help you detect internet fraud in real-time before you provide sensitive information.
3. Check the sender’s email address
Some scammers pose as reputable companies and attempt to steal your personal information. A scammer may send you an email that looks legitimate and invites you to create a new password. Scammers using this strategy hope the victim will enter their username and current password. Then, the scammer can log into the victim’s account.
Scammers also send phishing emails hoping that victims will click on dangerous links. Some links install malware onto a victim’s computer when they’re clicked. Malware makes it easier for a criminal to steal your information, and some malware can make your computer slower or unusable.
Checking the sender’s email address can help you discover a scammer. If you receive an email from your bank, it won’t come from someone with a Gmail or Yahoo! email address. Some hackers use emails that resemble the reputable company’s website but include a typo. For instance, a scammer imitating Facebook may use the email address format “[email protected].” This email address contains three Os instead of two, indicating it is a fake address. Some scammers use zeros instead of Os during their outreach to potential victims.
If an email seems out of the blue, take some extra time to check the sender’s email address. It takes less than a minute and can save you from significant challenges in the future.
4. Don’t rush to perform an action
Scammers hope their victims will rush to perform actions, such as jumping on the phone, providing personal information or sending a wire transfer. If someone is using urgency and scarcity to prompt you to perform an action, it could be a scam. Take some time to pause and think the situation over before filling out a form or giving someone valuable information.
5. Ask yourself whether an offer makes sense
If an offer is too good to be true, it can be a scam. Some scammers promise riches with very little effort or use fake testimonials to prop up their products and services. You should compare offers from other companies before committing to a company or individual you have never come across. Shopping around can help you discover whether the person’s offer is legitimate or whether it is an internet fraud attempt.
You can also check the person’s social media handle to see whether their business is legitimate. The scammer may talk about how their business venture is successful, but the lack of social media posts or engagement can tell another story. Some legitimate businesses don’t use social media, but if you detect multiple red flags before checking a scammer’s social media accounts, it may be a good idea to avoid them.
Some people can create convincing social media personas, but you can also scour the web for online reviews. If the promise behind the offer or the price point sounds too good to be true, you have to be extra cautious.
Keep yourself safe from cyber criminals
The internet is a powerful resource that can connect you with people worldwide, give you relevant information in a matter of seconds, and keep you updated on the news. While the internet has many capabilities, bad actors lurk across cyberspace and attempt to dupe victims into handing over sensitive information. Protecting yourself from fraud by knowing the warning signs and monitoring accounts can help to keep you safe.
Is internet fraud a crime?
Yes. States have laws that deal with internet fraud.
What is the most popular internet fraud?
Phishing attempts are the most common way hackers obtain sensitive information.
Why does internet fraud happen?
Internet fraud happens in part because scammers use deceit, urgency, scarcity and fear to prompt immediate actions from victims without much thought.