Last month we talked a little bit about the various online scams that criminals run in order to get you to give them your personal information. We covered computer virus scams, online trading, bank and phishing scams, computer hacking and even the secret world of online dating scams. But now we want to bring the focus back into the real world, where real work criminals are still trying to get your personal information the old fashioned way.
Employment scams are designed to pray on those who want to go the ‘get rich quick’ route in life. You see an ad in a spam email on a website banner or even on a poster in the street of on the local notice board. It’s advertising for a job that promises a good rate of pay for not many hours and the ability to work from home – it’s right up your street! So you sign up and start off, but the job is really a sham. You end up out of pocket, earning very little or even breaking the law. For example, you could be offered the chance to be a mystery shopper and are asked to test a new money sending method for a bank. You use the service, transfer the money and report back on the process. What you don’t realise is that you are helping your ‘employer’ launder money and could end up facing criminal charges for money laundering.
Up Front Payment Scams
This one is the oldest trick in the book, but it is amazing how many people still fall for it. You are offered the key to a large amount of money – usually in the millions. It could be ‘inheritance’ from a distant relative or a ‘reward’ for helping a stranded Nigerian prince, but in order to earn it you have to send an upfront fee. This could be for legal or administration fees, or to help the stranded soul get home. You send tends, hundreds, maybe even thousands of pounds to their account and start dreaming of how you will spend all of that money. But of course it never shows up and you will never see your money again.
Mobile Phone Scams
You get a text out of the blue inviting you to download a brand new app and play a game. You’re intrigued and always on the lookout for new things to try, so you download it to see what it’s all about. Before long you notice that you have racked up massive charges to your phone bill. You might even discover that some of your other apps have been hacked and your personal information stolen. As more people go mobile, cybercrime follows, and mobile open up new doors for cyber criminals and scammers. We use them as mini-computers, making them gateways to our bank accounts, flight details, personal information and passwords.
The explosion of online property has generated another way for scammers to get you to willingly part with your money. For example, you are looking for a room to rent and you see an ad on a room-finding site that sounds perfect. You respond and the landlord tells you that they have had a lot of interest, so they are asking for the first month’s rent up front to secure it. You request a viewing but they give you an excuse – maybe they are out of town or in hospital – so they send you photos instead. It looks good so you send over your money. Only there is no flat, so you are back to square one with no trace of your money.
Sadly, charity scams are incredibly common and easy to do. A charity approaches you by phone, post, email or maybe even in person asking for a donation for a heart-breaking cause. You respond generously without checking the charity or the collector’s credentials. Unfortunately, the charity didn’t exist, your money is gone and the real people in need get nothing. Many people who have been the victim of a charity scam don’t actually find out their money never made it to the people in need, and so awareness of these scammer groups is quite low.
Small Business Scams
If you are in business this is one to really watch out for. You receive an invoice for some goods or a service that you regularly order. Because you recognise the service or products you pay the invoice without question. All is fine until the real invoice arrives and your heart sinks – you have credited the account of a scammer and you have been left out of pocket. Running a small business can make you a target for all kinds of scams, from being billed for advertising you didn’t place to being asked to forward payments to a non-existent supplier. When your cash flow is so critical, you can’t afford to lose out to a scammer.
Of course these are just a few examples of all the scams operating out there in the real world. The best advice we can give it to be alert, and remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. To ensure your information doesn’t end up in the hands of scammers who could use it to target you, or worse scam someone else, make sure any documents containing private information are shredded before you dispose of them. For more information about real world security and how shredding can help you, get in touch with us today for your free consultation.