Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet has been the only ray of hope for Australians, whether it be for fulfilling your daily chores or entertainment during these stressful times. Internet dependency and usage rose during the lockdown, and so did the danger attached to excessive use and misuse of the internet. Leading the list was digital scams.
According to Scamwatch, Australia has reported almost 147000+ digital scams cases until now, with more than $116 million in the loss. That is a surprisingly significant number, and most of it is sourced out of a mobile phone through calls, emails, text messages, and numerous digital platforms.
Amongst the list of scams happening in Australia, the following are the ones leading the bandwagon and are much more severe than we expect them to be.
Types of Digital Scams
An attempt to sabotage your personal information through illegal means and then use that information to commit fraud online is known as Identity Theft. It is further subdivided into numerous categories that include:
- Hacking: Use of illegal means to break into your devices and accounts.
- Phishing: Attempt to scam out personal financial information like a bank account, credit card number, etc.
- Fake Online Profiles: Make online profiles under your name and carry out various activities.
- Malware and Viruses: Attempt to track your computer files and activities through different malicious software and viruses.
Most of these incidents make their way through a corrupt or public wifi connection. It is a known fact that public wifi is a threat more than convenience. An expert hacker won’t even take a minute to get into your system and grasp all your information, including your Netflix passwords and saved payment methods.
Another scam attached to this is the use of a free VPN. You may enjoy all the great content of American Netflix with that free VPN. Still, it is secretly trading your data to third parties who may use it for various unknown activities without your consent, which is theft.
This scam includes the transaction, buying, and selling of products online and all the related issues. It is another one of the most common scams ever since the pandemic has hit. All businesses have shifted on a digital platform to reduce human interaction, yet still providing all the services.
It includes tricking online shoppers with a well-made website or an app with real products and contacts but fake reviews. Without doubting the site’s legitimacy, users order numerous products worth hundreds of dollars, only to get nothing or a fake counterfeit product.
Apart from this, fake invoices, refunds on monetary transactions that never took place, and many more billing and shopping-related scams are a part of this that we need to beware of.
Online Dating Apps and Websites
Probably the easiest but very dangerous and emotionally challenging. Dating scams have become a new norm today, where loneliness and isolation have triggered the most vulnerable to find love online. And this has become a hub for scammers and predators to prey on emotionally triggered people, scamming them for their money, gifts, and personal information.
These scammers create a fake profile and persona which is visually attractive and enough to lure in people by saying things they want to hear. They will get attached to you quickly, and soon you will find yourself spending money on them without realising their true intentions.
According to reports, scammers use social media apps to lure people into relationships and then ghosting them when things get serious or chances of getting caught become clear.
A scammer acts as an employee of a legit firm or an independent broker for an investment opportunity, which is either fake or even if it is real, the money never makes it to the actual account.
These frauds scam people for their life savings by contacting them through social media advertisements or phone calls. Nonetheless, they pose as professionals, but soon after receiving the money, they wrap up their identity and vanish in thin air.
Numerous individuals and companies online pose as talent acquisition agencies, promising youngsters to get their dream jobs worldwide. They take hefty fees and personal details of the individual in the hope of landing them in a good company, but nothing of the sort happens.
They drain the candidate of their money by enrolling them in useless programs and classes, only to fill their own pockets.
Digital Scams in Summary
Apart from these, numerous other digital scams occur, which involves the use of fake emails, calls, and messages demanding money or fake lotteries that people win. All these scams have cost people millions of dollars, and despite the awareness, there is little to nothing that is done.
It is our responsibility to stay safe and aware of our surroundings and online presence. One should always keep their online accounts safe and conduct their mode of payments through a secure channel. Moreover, always use a reliable VPN for your online activities. Avoid using a free VPN, as it does more harm than good. Always double check things that seem too good to be true.