By: Oraine Matthews
Content Advocate BlueFirePR
Scammers are incredibly cunning with their line of work. After all, scamming is their job. The Fraud Research Center states that $40 to $50 billion is lost to fraud each year. Prevent monetary loss and fraud by educating yourself on a few new hunting grounds for scam artists.
1. Fake Store Fronts
As e-commerce continues to grow in popularity, consumers are comfortable purchasing items online – perhaps too comfortable. Most of us will hand over our credit card information to any seemingly reputable website, without stopping to think that anyone can set up an online store.
Keep in mind the products you purchase online may not even be real, but this isn't the only danger. You could be shopping on a legitimate store that has poor security protocols and if they are hacked, your private information could become public as well. There are two safety precautions you can take in this situation to protect yourself – and your wallet. When making an online purchase, try to use larger merchants. They will tend toward having better security and protective methods in place. If you do purchase online from a smaller store, use third-party services to make payment – such as Google Wallet or PayPal. Also, look out for scams run as “auction websites” or “on auction platforms.” Simply put, when in doubt … don’t make the purchase. No item is worth the headache that credit card fraud or identity theft brings!
2. Social Media Sites
According to identity theft protection service Lifelock, "phishing is a way identity thieves steal your information by pretending to be a company, organization or entity that you know and trust." Your newest Facebook “friend” may just become your worst enemy, since scammers now establish themselves on social media platforms to find targets. Scammers may befriend you or pretend to be someone you knew in the past, making hacking into your account or replicating it much easier. CNET reports even Facebook "Like" campaigns can be potentially dangerous by getting participants to share more information through the campaign than they realize. The best way to protect yourself is to be skeptical in the digital places where you actually feel most secure. Even dating sites are not impervious to this. Follow your instincts and don't fully disclose information with strangers until you have built proven, tangible trust.
3. Job Postings
No one should expect to get scammed when they're looking to get paid, but it happens. Keep that in mind while job searching online. If a recruiter, company or job advertisement sounds too good to be true, be suspicious. Red flags include being asked to fund a background check or purchase a training kit and supplies. While conducting a job search, it is always better to err on the side of being extra cautious and vigilant – and do your research before making any decisions. Beware of jobs that involve procuring and releasing goods or funds, as well as transferring money or moving items in a seemingly unconventional way, neither of which you should ever do. CNN outlines telltale signs of job scams – vague job descriptions and "no experience necessary," headlines with "work from home," luxuriously enticing perks, and suspicious company names. Check for the company on the Better Business Bureau and always have your guard up!
Overall, if you arrange secure payment for online purchases, navigate social media sites carefully, and conduct research about job opportunities you can reduce your risk of becoming the victim of an online scam.