Common Online Scams That Can Damage Your Finances

As if you don’t have enough legitimate concerns to worry about, managing money; several underhanded scams add another burden to your financial life. Opportunistic criminals and shady organizations are constantly at work mining data and manipulating outcomes in ways that can have devastating impacts on your finances, credit rating, and personal reputation. And the issue is not easing. Instead, scams and illegitimate acts against consumers are growing in number, as criminal methods become more sophisticated and perpetrators become increasingly bold, disrupting UK commerce and information.

Scams Put Your Financial Security at Risk

Recent reporting indicates the top UK scams perpetrated in the UK represent upwards of 130,000 cases. Money Watch blogger, Rob Lewis, recently outlined how online scams now outnumber the total population of some UK cities such as Exeter, and others. The problem has grown so prominent, in fact, there’s a movement underway to beat the scammers in the UK. Broadband provider TalkTalk is one of many organizations taking measures to reduce the number of victims exposed to criminal scams this year.

Scams take many forms, so staying safe from illegitimate activity requires diligence and follow-through. In one noted case from last year, scammers specifically targeted TalkTalk customers. In particular, clients of the broadband provider who called for tech service were subsequently contacted by scammers claiming to represent the company.

The timely trick had an air of legitimacy, because the customers were contacted shortly after calling for service (within minutes, at times). The fraudulent callers also had personal information about the users requesting tech support, so the fake calls seemed like legitimate extensions of the original contact made by customers. Though some saw through the scam, others supplied personal information in good faith, leaving them vulnerable to account intrusions by the scammers.

Familiar Cons Impacting Users Online

By the time security professionals and everyday users recognize scams and fortify their defences against them, industrious criminals have already devised the next generation of tricks and swindles, aimed at personal data and financial exploits. Whether you’re borrowing money online, making purchases, or engaging with service providers, it’s important to operate securely, using available resources to compare options and verify online sellers.

As part of the sweeping effort to protect consumers, the following scams have been identified as some of the most common problems affecting UK users.

  • Shopping Scams – Buying online has become a go-to shopping option, so buyers are targeted when making Internet purchases. In some cases, products are misrepresented, leaving buyers with items they cannot use. In other frauds, online auction customers make electronic payments for goods, which are never delivered. TalkTalk suggests using online reviews to help verify sellers, and also reminds buyers that a deal sounding too good to be true, may indeed be a scam.
  • Computer Service Fraud – Perpetrating this fraud, scammers cold call computer users, claiming software bugs and other issues may be impacting performance. They then attempt to gain remote access or simply request credit card information, so that they may address bogus issues. Victims who fall for the trick are billed fees for fixing non-existent computer bugs. This type of fraud is often cloaked in the names of legitimate companies, in order to make the information requests more believable.
  • Computer Hacks – Additional vulnerabilities for computer users occurs when an unauthorised party gains remote access to the devices. Phishing emails requesting personal information are a common source of this type of scam, allowing criminals to secure your banking details and other information, which may then be used to steal from you or corrupt your computer.
  • Social Media Scams – Hijacking email and social media accounts enables scammers to pull-off criminal activity. In one common example, the personal data is used to contact friends or family members, asking them for loans. Because the requests originate from legitimate accounts, recipients sometimes fall for the ruse, providing money to the perpetrators.

Social media scams, computer hacks, and shopping fraud are common online tricks used by criminals to gain access to personal data and account information. For safe online interaction and trouble-free computing, be on the lookout for these and other scams.

Paul graduated in 2001 with a degree in Finance. Since then he has gone on to work for several of the UK's most well-known financial institutions.

An avid blogger and a huge football fan, Paul is here to guide you through the ins and outs of personal finance and perhaps save you some money in the process!

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