Common scams on the Internet and by wire (phone lines) include, but are not limited to the following:
Before we begin, please keep in mind that a lot of legitimate, licensed business professionals use the phone to conduct pre-sales lead verification and appointment-setting. Not all business phone calls, and for that matter, not all telemarketing calls are scams.
However, there are illegitimate business phone calls (some of which may be vanity and thus not scams either). These tend to be scam phone calls, and I will explain to you how these work.
They usually get your information via the Internet, through request forms or via postal mailing list information, or they obtain this information (completely legally) via your Facebook profile (anything you share publicly on your Facebook timeline or profile can and will be used to scam you by scammers). These monsters then place a call to your phone, and they will ask questions that seem to be of a commercial nature, but which are related to a business or line of work or even a hobby, which you are engaged in (either now or in the past).
Once these scammers have verified they are calling the right individual, they will offer you something you usually are interested in, and then they will try to seduce you into giving away your personal banking, credit/debit card, and/or other financial or identification information. Do not give this information away over the phone unless you can verify the caller is a merchant in good standing with a merchant community, such as a Chamber of Commerce chapter or a BBB (Better Business Bureau) branch.
There are variations of the phone scam. These include the harassing debt collector scam, the robot debt collection caller scam, the IRS bad taxes phone scam, and many more, including, but not limited to, prize winning phone scams (similar to Nigerian scams but via the wire) such as around Christmas time or some other gift-giving/prize-awarding holiday season.
MLM (multi-level marketing, also known as "network marketing") scams are as old as the earliest records in the Holy Bible (okay, maybe not as old as God Himself...), but they are just as dangerous today as they were in the time of the Sumerian civilization.
MLM scams are also called "Ponzi" schemes (named after Charles Ponzi, the originator of one variation of this type of scam), and also sometimes known by the more approriate moniker of the "pyramid" scheme.
MLM/pyramid scams are known for their structure (of their organization chart, that is), and their freely/readily-available hiring policy (which is one where anyone can be hired - and that's a scam, because most jobs have specialized requirements, and not everyone can fill every job description known to humankind. I, for one, cannot be a judge, because I do not have a bar license).
MLM's have a pyramid-shaped organization chart structure, whereby the guy on the top (the founder and operator of this scam) makes the most money, earning "commissions" coming upwards from subordinates (his "downline") whom earn slightly less, because part of their commissions are used to pay the level(s) above them.
Please note that professional, legitimate sales agencies also pay their higher-level salespeople more than their lower-level ones; however, in the case of most legitimate sales companies & agencies, the more senior salespeople are "vested", which means that they earn a greater percentage commission calculated from total agency revenue - they do not earn part of their subordinates' commission(s). There is a proper way to calculate vestment bonuses. MLM's do not follow this "proper way". That is why MLM's are scams.
MLM's are scams because they will saturate ("eat up") the market in a very quick manner, thus making it nearly impossible for newcomers to the scam to make money, while the old-timers will continuously make fewer dollars (although most of them will have left for another scam business, sometimes with whole "downlines" or "distributorships", by the time the MLM scam in question has completely saturated its market share and is dying).
Insurance fraud did not originate on the Internet (Insurance itself is nearly as old as the United States of America, and possibly much, much older, so it definitely predates the Internet by at least a couple of centuries).
Insurance fraud has several types (please note that we are not limiting ourselves to the kinds that are limited to Internet insurance scams here): the Life Insurance Fraud, the P&C Insurance Fraud, the Insurance Spam Advertising Scam, among others.
Life Insurance Fraud is usually found two ways. The originators of Life Insurance Fraud can be either from the side paying or the side selling. The seller-originated fraud is often the illegal practice known as "twisting". This is where an agent offers a policy to a buyer under the deceptive inclusion of promotions not related to the Life Insurance policy in question. The other side (buyer originated) fraud can be such where a potential "insured" already has cancer, or is contemplating suicide, and buys a policy to protect those he loves. That is also a form of Life Insurance Fraud.
P&C (Propert & Casualty) Insurance Fraud often involves cars (because using planes to conduct this scam will get both parties killed, and using boats is usually impossible due to water bouyancy). The scammer will drift into the victim's lane and slow down quickly, creating an accident. After a lawsuit against both the insurance company of the victim (the one at-fault in the accident) and often the victim him/herself, the scammer then makes off with a higher deductible, of which maybe only 2% - 5% actually pays for the cost of fixing the trashed scammer vehicle.
Other forms of insurance fraud are plenty. Visiting a legal library and querying the staff for information on insurance frauds will often pull up a long list of them.
Click fraud occurs in two ways:
- A website owner puts up advertisement on his website and then subsequently clicks them multiple times, or uses a web robot to initiate a long sequence of subsequent clicks, to raise his own revenue stream income.
- A website owner's competitor does likewise of the same to his website advertisements.
In both situations the website owner who put up the ads being clicked in a manner resembling click fraud, would lose his revenue stream from the ads, because his ad provider would very likely ban or terminate him on the grounds that he was the one doing the click fraud, regardless of whether the situation was really #1 or #2.
ID theft occurs when a hacker or some other criminal or criminal organization steals your identity (in other words, information online that could personally identify you and verify your identity, even fraudulently, with banking and financial institutions) and uses your identity to make fraudulent purchases, conduct criminal or terrorist operations in your name, and/or commit treason and/or espionage under the guise of being "you".
Obviously this is a serious issue. People have gone to jail or have been executed (in certain countries) for crimes committed in their name, but which they, otherwise, did not commit on their own, nor had they any knowledge of such criminal activities, up until the time of their arrest.
If you say this is a non-issue because you are incapable of high treason, just remember that by the time someone has committed espionage in your name and your Miranda rights are being read to you, it's already too late to do anything about it. You'll have a bullet with your name on it, regardless of how much you hate the hacker or the criminal at that moment.
The best protection against ID theft is prevention; the second best is pre-emption, but unless you are a government official, pre-emption may also result in criminal charges, sometimes also overseas extradition, especially if you "go commando".
Phishing attacks, on the other hand, involve an email message which appears to be from a bank or financial institution, or from a popular website, and which claim that the recipient needs to update their password or credentials in order to continue using their account(s). Phishing attacks have been listed here alongside ID theft because they are often the method by which your identity is stolen by the criminal.
Nigerian (also known as "419" due to a certain country's criminal activity identification number 419 being used to denote such crimes) scams usually originate from the African nation of Nigeria, hence the name.
Nigerian scams are email scams like phishing attacks but which often do not contain any links; instead they contain instructions to wire funds overseas to get a prize or some other financial windfall (all of which is always a lie). Nigerian scams don't often result in lost identities (unless you are an idiot and reveal too much of yourself during the communication phase - the phase that comes after you wire the funds - that is, if the scammer continues to play his game).
However, wiring funds in such a manner constitutes wire fraud. Oftentimes this means that the victims are also prosecuted as offenders.
The best way to avoid getting scammed is to keep a keen eye out for anything that may be suspicious.
On the Internet, or while communicating over the phone, this means that you should be keenly aware of any difference from the norm. Differences from the norm can be seen in how the writer or content creator of the website writes. If the English does not seem professional, or if the English contains lots of mistakes, then this is a sure sign you are reading either a website that is fraudulent or (in the case of blogs) the writer doesn't have a squat clue what s/he is talking about.
Over the phone, be aware if the caller claims to be from "the United States government" or "the United States of America" but cannot or will not tell you which exact department, agency or law enforcement branch s/he is from. The IRS tax fraud over the phone uses a robotic impersonation of a human caller to make its claims.
Also, if the caller is calling about domain services, or web design / development services, marketing services (be sure to ask "What Kind" questions and keep pestering them if they remain shady about the nature of the services), or computer-virus-related calls, if they claim to have knowledge which you have none of, the call is DEFINITELY a SCAM!!!
In this way the virus can eat your credentials every time you use them. In this manner your identity can still be stolen.
Lastly, always be prepared. The Boy Scout motto I learned as a kid (as a Webelos scout - unless you were a scout and know what "Webelos" means, don't even bother to ask what it means - I won't respond to that question - look it up) is relevant today as it was when I learned it as a kid. I leave that motto to you, my website visitor, as well. ALWAYS BE PREPARED - in case you encounter the worst!
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