Internet scams are very common. It is easy for scammers to send out a bunch of emails or put up a web site and wait for the money to come rolling in. There just isn't any way for the authorities to stop all of them. It is up to us, the consumers, to make the right decisions. If you aren't sure about a web site, email or phone call, do some research on them.
Warning, Your Computer May Be Infected
This message shows up on a pop up window in your browser (a web page that opens without your permission). These pop ups are very common. They pop up in your internet browser and scare you into thinking you have viruses or spyware in your computer. These are all scams. In order to find out if you actually have a virus or spy-ware, you need to run anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
If you call the number listed on the web site, you will find that the person on the other end sounds legit, but they are not. They will want permission to enter your computer and look around for infections. If you let them, they will enter your computer by having you download and load commonly used software that is normally used in a good way. For instance, LogMeIn can be used to remotely access the files on your computer from anywhere. You can transfer a file from your home computer to your work computer anytime you need it.
Once they are in, they can do what ever they want. They now have control of your computer including your mouse. They will usually bring up a program on your computer that supposedly shows you that it's infected. One of the programs that they use is Event Viewer. This program is just used for logging errors in Windows (most of these errors are non critical). It can not check your computer for a virus or spy-ware.
Once they point out the "viruses" they will let you know that they can clean your computer for a fee. They will claim that it is a one time fee and they will continue to give you support for free after that. That may be true, but they didn't really do anything. They just took your money. Plus, they may now have your credit card information.
These pop ups are usually impossible to close in the typical way (closing the tab or exiting the browser). You may need to use Task Manager to close out your browser.
Avoiding these pop ups can sometimes be impossible, but just be aware that they are scams. Don't click on them and don't call the phone number.
Emails Asking to Confirm Your Secure Information
Email scams aren't as common as they used to be, but they are still out there. One of the most common email scams is the ones that ask you to click a link and confirm your information. Some ask for you to enter your user name and password and others will ask you to enter your debit/credit card numbers.
These emails will look like they came from your bank or other secure site. The first thing to remember in this situation is that your bank or any other secure site, will not ask you for your card or log in information through an email or even a phone call.
If you are unsure about the email, check out the link they want you to click on. Does the link send you to a secure internet address? The link listed in the email may look secure, but it will most likely redirect you to an insecure site. A secure site will have a "s" after the "HTTP" part of the address. It should start with https://, if the letter "s" is not there, then the site is not secure. Another way to find out is to make a phone call. Call the company and ask if they sent you the email.
Other email scams will ask you to send money for one thing or another. For instance, to help them retrieve money from the estate of a rich loved one (I have personally received these kind). They ask you to pay legal fees and such and then they will send you a large sum from the estate as payment. These are all scams. Sending money to someone who sent you an email is never a good idea, especially if they from outside the US.
Signing up and uploading your resume at a job search site is very convenient. Most of the time this is a good way to find a job, but it can lead to being scammed. For instance, you're offered a job collecting money for a company that is overseas. They want you to collect money for them because it is hard for them to collect from people in the US.
They will give this offer a job title and make it sound legit. If you decide to take the job, they will ask you for your personal and banking information so that they can pay you a commission. Now they have you, they can take money from your account and leave you penniless.
Avoid these types of scams by doing some research on any job offers that you are not sure about. Most likely someone has had a bad experience with the same kind of offer.
Money Order Scams
These types of scams usually involve payment for an item that someone is selling online. The buyer will offer to buy the item, but will want to pay you more than you asked. Or they will claim that they "accidentally" sent the wrong amount by mistake. They want you to take your part of the money out and then send the rest to their shipping company or back to them. The problem with this is that the money order will not clear and you will be responsible for paying the bank back the money they lost.
This scam is very common on sites like Craigslist and eBay. To avoid this type of scam, never accept money orders or even certified checks. If you have no choice, take it to your bank before you ship the item and ask them if it is possible to find out if it will clear before you use the funds. They should be able to help you.
This isn't really an internet scam because they call you instead of nabbing you on the internet, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Cold calling is when a company calls to sell you something without you knowing they were even going to call. These kinds of calls are very common. Companies use this technique to get new customers. Cold calling can also be used in a bad way though.
First, let me start off by saying that Microsoft will never call you so that they can repair your computer. Their technicians are there to take calls, not send them. If you ever get a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft's technical support, hang up immediately. Calls that are supposedly from Microsoft are common lately, I have received one of those calls in the past.
Someone calls your home or office and tells you that they are from Microsoft support. They explain that they have found that you have an infected computer and would like your permission to clean it. This scam works like the pop up ads on the internet, but instead of you calling them, they call you.
Just like the internet scam, they will want to have permission to enter your computer. If you agree they will send you to the tech support department. Most likely the guy that answers will be the same guy that you just talked to. They have you download and install software that will let them in and then tell you that your computer has been infected. Then they will claim that they can clean it for a fee.
Don't fall for this scam. Tell the person on the other end that you will call Microsoft back later to confirm that your computer has been infected. They will argue with you so just hang up or better yet, ask them a million questions just to aggravate them.