As we enter a new year, everyone's excited for the possibilities of what's to come. However, as society continues making technological advances, it's essential to recognize that cybersecurity threats continue to grow more serious and more sophisticated.
To help keep you secure in 2021, here's a list of the most common internet scams you're likely to encounter and how to steer clear of them. While you're at it, don't forget the basics — like making sure you're using unique, secure passwords across the web. A tool like TeamPassword can help.
Fake and Counterfeit Products
With more people staying home, online shopping has grown substantially over the past year. Unfortunately, many cybercriminals have just seen that as an opportunity. When Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like face masks were in high demand, many scams popped up where sellers took money for orders they ultimately never fulfilled.
Now, online purchase scams have become quite common, most often selling products that have suddenly started trending. The scammers take it quite far, creating fake shipping labels, sending out phony delivery notifications, and trying to do everything in their power to put the blame on someone else when you never receive the products you paid for.
Another online purchase scam that's also become more frequent is the selling of counterfeit or "lookalike" products. To avoid these scams, your best bet is to read reviews, choose reputable businesses, and try to make online purchases with a credit or debit card that provides robust fraud protection.
Pretend Puppies and Other Pet Scams
With a large uptick in people turning to the internet to make purchases, many families in recent months have turned to the internet to adopt a pet into their household. This has led to a fivefold increase in pet-related scams, where con artists most often create websites to advertise animals up for adoption that, in the end, don't exist.
The average consumer loses around $1,000 to these types of scams and pretend puppies are the most common culprit. However, parrots, cats, and other animals can also be involved in these scams, so you should always do your due diligence.
The pandemic has become a great excuse for not allowing a family to see a pet in person before adoption, and it's also given rise to fraudulent money requests to cover transport cages, shipping costs, and special vaccinations. Pets aren't the only lure, either. A variety of threats have arisen from the pandemic.
As more people look for work, employment scams are on the rise. While legitimate work-from-home opportunities do exist, it's essential that job seekers verify employer information and job positions before giving out any personal information. While these scams often seek to steal sensitive data through phishing and other tactics, they can also try to leach funds from victims, too.
If you're applying for any job opportunity and you receive a "company check" with instructions to cash it right away, don't fall for it. Scammers will ask for you to cash it and then send back a large portion of it using a wire transfer or gift card. They then tell you to purchase equipment with the remainder, but by the time they've received the money you've sent, the check bounces and you're out of cash. Even if the check seemingly clears, no real employer would ever ask you to go through these steps, and the scammer surely has something up their sleeve.
Of course, with more people working remotely, other types of work-related threats are also popping up. With TeamPassword, you can help keep your virtual workplace secure.
Government Impersonation Scams
Across the U.S. and Canada, perhaps one of the most costly scams involves callers who impersonate government officials, most often acting as a representative of the IRS, Social Security Administration, or Services Canada. There's no doubt that these agencies are intimidating, so people are often tricked under pressure to comply with their requests.
When the threat of a legal consequence comes your way, think twice. The IRS and other agencies may call you, but they will never use fear or threats to trick you into giving them personal information. In fact, they'll never ask for personal information over the phone — or for money. When in doubt, hang up. Don't call back the number that dialled you. Instead, look for the agency's official number online.
Protect Yourself Everywhere On The Web
These scams go to show just how diverse the tactics of modern-day cybercriminals have become. Whether they use the lure of a great job opportunity, a wonderful new pet, or the intimidation of legal action, these scams can catch you off guard and seem incredibly convincing.
Protecting yourself from them requires active due diligence. Of course, there are plenty of schemes you can fall victim to without even knowing it. When it comes to your personal accounts, one of the first lines of defence against an attack is a secure, unique password for every platform. Try TeamPassword today and get on the path to a more secure digital future.