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7 Common Online Threats and How to Avoid Them


Whether you spend a lot of time on social media or purchase all your gifts online, it’s important to be aware of common online threats. Without being aware, cyber criminals are at work each day, aiming to steal personal information – including your financial details. The following eight threats could happen to you, here’s how to avoid them.

  1. Fake iPhone 6 Promotion

There’s no doubt that Apple products are extremely popular and with the release of the iPhone 6, many people wanted to trade up. Unfortunately, this created scams that would promise a free iPhone 6 throughout advertisements on Facebook. Individuals would fill out forms, displaying their personal information and by the time they realized, they had already shared various details without any chance of receiving a phone.

To avoid this from happening to you: Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Do not fill out any random online forms, as they are generally scams. 

  1. Online Shopping Theft

 When it comes to shopping websites such as Amazon and eBay, cyber criminals try to retrieve online shopping accounts in order to access your finances. They create well-disguised phishing pages, which are essentially fake pages that mimic a legit site. If you are asked to fill out information regarding a random offer, be very cautious.

To avoid this from happening to you: Always be aware of the address bar when these offers pop-up, is it a real Amazon login page? If you have any doubts, contact the shopping site directly. Avoid filling in any information, especially when something that will be downloaded to your computer or smartphone. 

  1. Extremely Cheap Playstation 4

 If you’re a gamer, you probably seek out the best possible discounts in terms of gaming systems. Similar to the iPhone 6 scam, there’s a scam that promises an unusually cheap Playstation 4 to those who sign-up. These scams often surface on Facebook, but they show up on other popular sites as well. If you see a post on Facebook for a free device – whatever it may be, don’t ‘like’ it. This could put you at risk for malware downloads and hacking.

To avoid this from happening to you: Don’t ever click on a link that is not from a trusted party. Also, do not provide any information on a forum that is not secure and trusted. Whenever you have any doubt, report the link. 

  1. Online Payment Issues

Although PayPal is a great platform, do not be duped by fake deals or surveys. When some individuals go to login, a window may pop-up regarding an advertiser-sponsored offer. It’s important to remember that these forms are abnormal, potentially exposing your information to hackers.

To avoid this from happening to you: Be aware of what’s normal and abnormal regarding PayPal and other third-party payment platforms. Whenever making payment, look for an HTTPS label, the ‘s’ stands for secure. 

  1. Fake Delivery Sites 

After you have made an online purchase, hackers will try and intercept your information by creating phishing sites that target companies like FedEx. Although they will look incredibly similar to an authentic web page, there will be differences. Do not provide your address and full name if you think that something isn’t right.

To avoid this from happening to you: Always look at the page’s URL – is it officially FedEx or another company in which the page is claiming to be? Remember, whenever in doubt, contact the company directly. They may not be aware that hackers are impersonating them. 

  1. Lotteries and Sweepstakes 

It’s everyone’s dream to win the lottery and hackers use this to their advantage. If you receive an email or pop-up explaining that you’ve won an online sweepstake or foreign lottery, don’t fall for it. It may appear that the letter is from a government agency or bank, however, it’s likely a scam. They will ask you to send a wire transfer to cover shipping, fees, and associated taxes. 

To avoid this from happening to you: It’s important to understand that playing a foreign lottery is illegal. If a sweepstake is legit, run by an American company or organization, you will not need to pay if you win. The best thing you can do is ignore these types of scams and report it if possible. 

  1. Debt Relief Scams 

The majority of Americans carry some debt and to be offered a way out – seems too good to be true, right? Well, that’s because it is. These debt relief scams often require you to claim bankruptcy, but they rarely say so. This can, of course, have long-term consequences that destroy your future credit. 

To avoid this from happening to you: Do not deal with your debt online, period. If you are having trouble paying your bills, speak directly with your creditors. There are credit counseling services available as well. If you believe you are being scammed, you can contact The Federal Trade Commission.

Curtis, S. (2013). Scammers target Facebook users with Playstation 4 offers. Telegraph. Retrieved on January 23rd, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet-security/10525816/Scammers-target-Facebook-users-with-PlayStation-4-offers.html

Computer Knowledge Base. 5 Shocking Online Threats and 8 Techniques for Safe Shopping During the Holidays. Baidu Antivirus. Retrieved on January 23rd, 2016, from http://antivirus.baidu.com/en/computer-knowledge/5_Shocking_Online_Threats__and_8_Techniques__For_Safe_Shopping_During_the_Holidays.html

OnGuardOnline. (2011). Common Online Scams. Retrieved on January 24th, 2016, from https://www.onguardonline.gov/articles/0002-common-online-scams