The Top 5 Modern Internet Scams and How to Avoid Them
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The Top 5 Modern Internet Scams and How to Avoid Them

This isn't your grandmothers list of scams. These are scams that people actually fall for, and how you can avoid them.

This isn't your grandmother's list of internet scams. Everyone knows about the Nigerian Prince scam, or people trying to get your credit card number, but those scams don't fool many people anymore. Right now, there are a lot of scams that people actually do fall for, some of which are completely legal. I've compiled a list of some of the most popular types of scams, why people fall for them, and how to avoid them.

5) The Credit Score Site. This scam comes in many forms, but the most prevalent is an advertisement that tries to get you to find your credit score. After you give it a click, you’ll be prompted to give your credit card number in order to get your score. The crux is that when you agree to the terms of service, you actually agree to pay them for the credit score. Some sites don’t charge you to check the score, but they may load your email address up on to adware sites, while ensuring that you have them a real address by sending the credit report to you directly. These companies make their profits by selling ‘verified’ email addresses.

4) The Really Cheap Stuff Scam. This is a simple scam, which gets users to buy products for a very small amount of money. The result is that a user who doesn’t check the fine print will end up paying ridiculous shipping charges for the products. These scams are becoming less popular in favour of free trial scams.

3) The Cell Phone Scam. This is a simple one. Take a survey, IQ test or find the name of your true love. We send you your PIN number as a text and then you enter it and get your results. It seems innocent, but what happens is that your phone gets charged, and you pay for it on your phone bill. This may be just a few dollars, but if you subscribed to horoscopes or checked off a terms of service box that subscribed you to something, you can be charged all of the time, and worse, you may not even notice if you set your phone bills to be paid automatically. Mobile numbers are just as volatile as visa numbers, so don’t think that asking for a cell phone number means you won’t have to pay. This one is especially bad with kids who have phones, because although they may not be trusted with credit cards, parents don’t usually make the connection and block their spending.

2) The Binary Scam. This is a straight, illegal scam. You get an email once a day for two weeks’ worth of business days, at 6 am, telling you exactly what the price of gold will do for the day. Up or down. You may get this from some random email, or you may be sent an email allowing you to sign up, or you may even have these forwarded from a friends’ account that got hacked. MSN accounts go down all of the time, so this is relatively common. After 10 days, you get sent an email showing you how all 10 predictions were correct and how using just $5000 you could have made 100k. The sender of the email then offers you another 10 days for $100. Do you do it? Of course not. The reason this is called a binary scam is because if you send out 1024 emails for one day (up or down), then 512 to the ones you didn’t mess up with (half and half up and down, again), you’re guaranteed to give the right information to 1 out of about 1000 email addresses. If you have 100 thousand addresses (which can be bought from advertising sites for a few hundred bucks or less), you have 100 people who may believe that you have the stock info to make them rich. This scam is relatively uncommon, but generally effective if the right targets are used, so remember that information like this is all about getting it right for a few people.

1) The Free Trial Scam. We’ve all seen hundreds of these. Miracle tooth whitening discovered by a mom, just combine these two products! Get ripped in six weeks using this special product! You’re then prompted, in some way, to order a free trail of a product, or a product for a buck or two. Here’s the catch, the fine print is usually about ten pages long, and it lets them bill you huge amounts of money, all legally. The main key is that most of these products are ‘subscriptions’ that involve paying huge amounts of money for a product that isn’t worth that much. Now, what they’re offering is a free trail of one month of the subscription. Here’s the catch. On the 30th of every month, they bill you and send out the product for next month at some point within the next 30 days. Now, you have maybe 4 weeks of the product, or two depending on the free sample, and to unsubscribe from the service without being charged, you have to send the product back to them. The problem is that by the time you get your free sample, you would have to put it in the mail right away in order for it to get back to the company in time to unsubscribe for the service, so in the end, you get charged before the product gets to them (they aren’t liable, as stated in the fine print) so you end up paying full price and not getting sent the product for the month you paid for, because you were taken off the subscriber list. Essentially, the only way to actually keep the savings from the free sample is to subscribe to the product indefinitely. That can range from 70 to 80 bucks a month. If you got unlucky and subscribed to two free samples, you can pay 140-160. Now, remember that this is all 100% legal. It’s no surprise that you see tons of advertisements for these products. The companies are making a killing.

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Comments (5)

This post was an eye-opener. Thanks for your effort to educate!

This was a very good post. Some I knew about and others I did not. Thanks eileen

Very good information. Thank you.

I unwittingly got nailed with the cell phone scam when my daughter and I took an IQ test just for fun. (I guess you need an IQ higher than 130 to figure out this scam!) When I was checking my phone record, I noticed the text messages they kept sending were costing me $2.50 each time, even though I never replied to them. Thanks for the heads-up on the other scams!

Thanks for the warning, I am sure I would have been suckered in by a couple of these scams.