Modern Online and Texting Scams

I did another post on Online Dating Scams, and decided to follow up with this post revealing more online scams that are going on.

Many scams involve receiving text messages.  The experts and even news reports always advise not to click on, or even to just delete unsolicited Emails (or text messages), but there are some real clever scams going on.

You may receive a text message saying you’ve won a car in a drawing.  You are given instructions to obtain a “MoneyPak” card and load it with a sum of money to pay tax for the car.

After you do this they drain your bank account.

A MoneyPak transaction in untraceable.  Scammers used to ask for wire transfers of money, which are also untraceable, but now use MoneyPak because it’s convenient.

Another texting scam is that you are told you’ve won a gift card from a major retailer.  The gift card amount could be quite large – say $500 or $1,000.

You are then directed to go to a website and enter a PIN number and other information.  You then land on a page offering you to apply for a credit card.

If you get an email or text message like this you should contact the retailer directly to see if the giveaway is legitimate.

One of the most common Email scams are phishing scams.  You receive an Email that supposedly is from your bank asking you to verify your Email address, and may say that your account has been hacked.

You are given a link that leads to another page that is actually fake, with a fake form (just like fake internet browser update forms) where you are directed to enter your PIN and credit card or account number.  The scammers can then access your bank account or make charges on your credit card.

Another popular modern online scam is an overpayment scam.  When you advertise something for sale a crook may send you a check or money order higher than the asking amount.  Then they will tell you they made a mistake and ask you to send money back.  Your check is good – their check turns out to be badYou may not find out their check was bad until days after you have already sent the item and your good check.Girl searching online

Work From Home and Make $486 Dollars a Day!!

You may see an ad with a line similar to the one above, and a picture of a young woman holding a baby.

When you click on the link, you will land on an official looking “News website” complete with a stock market ticker at the top, weather reports, etc.

There will be an “article” about making money at home with Dollar signResponses” underneath – supposedly comments from people who have used the plan.  These are all very cleverly written, and I believe all totally made up.  There are no actual faces of real people shown.

You will probably see a “3 Step Plan” described with another link to click on.

A typical scheme I checked out had:

  • A $97 dollar “registration fee”.
  • An additional “membership fee” of $8.78 that would be charged monthly to your credit card.
  • A “Web Builder” fee of $77 dollars.
  • Another $47 dollar fee for access to products to sell that could be “dropshipped”.
  • Another fee of $9.95 for a Marketing Guide.

If you don’t find and read the Terms and Conditions on every page you land on with these offers, you may have a lot of charges put on your credit card.

Some of these may be monthly recurring charges, as described above.  You’ll have to call a phone number or make an email contact to try and get these charges stopped.

Paypal is much safer to use, because you can actually cancel these types of charges (including monthly recurring cahrges) right in your paypal account.  However, a lot of these schemes may not allow purchase through Paypal.

Tips to avoid online and email scams:

Don’t use MoneyPak for online transactions.  Anytime someone specifically requests MoneyPak for an online transaction, it’s probably a scam.

Don’t pay up front fees for anything.

For spam text there is a service where you can forward texts to 7726, which spells SPAM.

This alerts your carrier to block texts.  It’s called GSMA Spam Reporting Service and represents about 800 mobile operators.  However, this is only a tool.  Your phone carrier still has to take action against the spammer, and this can be a long process.

Don’t click “stop” or “no” on your phone to prevent future texts.  That will show the spammer they have an active number.

Don’t wire money to anyone.

Don’t respond to emails, or texts from an unknown source.

Don’t click on links in Emails or text messages.

Find and read the Terms and Conditions on every page of every offer you are considering.

I don’t know of any banks that send Emails asking you to verify addresses/information, or to put your PIN and account number in a form.  If you get that type of Email, you should call the bank to ask what’s going on.  My personal preference is to actually go to a bank branch and talk to someone.

Online Search tip:

When you look at a Google or other Search Results page, many people don’t realize the listings at the top – there could be as many as 6 or 7 – are actually Ads.  You will see the word “Ads” or “Ad related to” at the top, and a very faint box around them.

The same ads (that look like more Search listings) may also appear at the bottom of a page – again, look for the word “Ads” and a faint box outline.

Scammers pay for these ads/listings and many lead to bogus web pages with bogus information.  Some of these ad listings also put malware on your computer.

When you are searching for a product, I think it’s better to look below the ads to the actual search listings.


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