Internet penetration is increasing day by day. According to Statista, over 50 percent of the world’s population currently has access to the online world. And while this has brought the world closer and has allowed people and businesses alike to realize various benefits, it also has a dark side.
In one word, you can easily describe its dark side – scams.
Scams and identity thefts have become immensely common. Even if you haven’t fallen for it, the chances are that you are aware of prevalent phishing attempts around you.
To put things into perspective, here are some alarming statistics about it.
- As per Radicati Group, email spam alone costs people over 20.5 billion USD every year.
- Business Insider reports that annually one in every ten adults residing in the US falls for an online scam.
- Twenty-three percent of victims suffer monetary losses because of scams.
To avoid it, it is imperative to understand scams, with all their complexities. Here are the different layers of scams you must know.
Scams may or may not be easily detectable
Since a few email spams tend to feature quite a lot of typos and grammatical errors, people tend to assume that this is the only type of email they need to be careful around. For instance, here is a spoof email that can be easily identified as a scam.
However, this is not the case. Now, hackers and scammers have also polished their skills. You will get emails that seem authentic, right down to the logo, yet be a scam. See this message people get from scammers pretending to be Netflix.
To avoid such attempts, do consider grammar and typos but also look past them. See the email address that the message is sent from before clicking on any link.
Scams always cause some form of loss
It turns out that the global economy experiences losses because of scams. As per Crowe, in 2019 alone, the world economy lost over 5 trillion USD due to the various types of online fraud.
People who either spot or fall in these traps should report it to the cybercrime unit of their country. This helps the government in protecting people, as well as analyzing the trend of fraudulent activity, to further create policies to combat the issue.
For example, the Federal Trade Commission of the US revealed valuable insights about scams that occurred within the country, based on consumer complaints. In 2019, government imposter scams increased by 53 percent, illustrating that people tend to fall for criminals that pretend to be employees of the Social Security Administration or Internal Review Service.
The imposter scam alone cost the country around $667 million in 2019 – an increase of 34 percent from the previous year.
Sometimes scams can stem from service providers
Hackers and third-party collaborators make service providers vulnerable to becoming a host for scams as well. It is important to note that not all companies are active contributors to such scams. Instead, it is possible that they aren’t aware of the issue.
Therefore, the first step should always be to complain to the company. In case one does not get a satisfactory response, you can then opt for an Ombudsman or file a complaint with the cybercrime cell of your country.
Take an example of the airG scam that happened a few years ago. Consumers that were subscribed to Telestra and Vodafone were being billed for a chat service they didn’t remember giving their consent for. Instead, clicking on a third-party link had caused it to happen.
Since the amount was low, it went unnoticed by many people until a few spotted it and raised the issue. Upon discovering the problem, airG was very quick to take action. It reversed the problem and took measures to ensure transparency in billing.
Since not all service providers respond the same way, you must stay alert when using different online services. Monitor your bill to detect such scams early on to prevent monetary losses.
Uncovering scams, layer by layer, can help consumers and organizations to fight the dark side of the online world. This is because it helps you in understanding just how complex the problem is and what pitfalls you must look out for.
Therefore, when you hear about an online scam, make sure to research it.
Does it illustrate that hackers have refined their hacking methods? This is a cue for you to be more cautious.
Does it reveal any patterns about how to identify scams? Note them down for future reference.
Does it stand out from other scams? Differentiate how so to understand how scammers are evolving.
Equipped with information, you are much likely to identify and avoid scams. You can also help others from falling for them by reporting them.