Internet Scams

So, you’re spending a bit more time at home due to the lockdown, well done, you are doing the right thing, saving the world from your sofa! Meanwhile, other people realise this and think they might have a slightly captive audience for less than scrupulous scam tactics. Don’t be surprised if your phone rings a bit a more with unsolicited attempts to gain your business. You’ll notice a bit more email traffic on a similar vein. 

Because we value our members’ security and have your best interests at heart, we thought it was a good time to highlight some of scams, tricks and generally dodgy behaviour you might come up against. 

Please also remember if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Also, give yourself 24-hours before you make any decision and do lots of research before you part with your hard-earned cash. Hey, you’ve got loads of time. 

Phishing 

Phishing is one of the most longstanding and dangerous methods of cyber crime. But do you know how to spot a phishing email? 

  • Check the senders email address, really please do this! If the email is from Paypal then it will have paypal in the domain name, so it would look like this somebody@paypal.comIf it was a phishing attempt it might be something like paypal@something.comLooks similar but is not from paypal. 
  • Sometimes the scam involves buying a domain name (anyone can) that is a misspelt yet like the legitimate company’s domain name. An example could be somebody@ paypa1.com, possibly not the best but you get the gist. 
  • Check the grammar. For some reason the quality of English used in phishing emails ican be poor. Look at the overall email and graphics. If it appears wrong in any way, then don’t trust it. 
  • They will have a suspicious attachment. It will look very legitimate. People you don’t know personally do not send you attachments. If anything about the email looks wrong do not click on that link. If you do, then you are likely to be unleashing nefarious malware onto your computer. 
  • Suspicious Links and Buttons. To hide the potentially dubious nature and address scammers might use a button or a link. Ensure you check this by passing the cursor over the link or button and checking out the address that appears at the bottom of the browser. On a mobile device, hold down on the link and a pop-up will appear containing the link. 
  • If you click on a link it might take you to a website that looks legitimate. At this point if you put your username and password in you will probably not get anywhere. However, the phishers now have a username and a password that they will either use or sell to the dark web. This is the reason why it makes sense to have different passwords. 

You need to be thinking that any email you receive could be suspicious. It is difficult, the writer has had experience of emails purporting to be from delivery companies with a link to the tracking number. It looked so legitimate that I nearly clicked on the link before realising that I hadn’t actually ordered anything recently. Another really common one is they type of email that looks like it came from someone you know’s email address. When you click on the link it gathers all your contacts and sends the same email to all of them from your email address. 

Be very paranoid, it might save you a lot of money. 

Tech Support Scams 

Often cold callers, commonly from India, who have noted an issue with your PC. These but can be from anyone and are very common and widespread these days. Scammers use various social engineering techniques to trick potential victims into giving their sensitive information. Even worst, they try to convince potential victims to pay for unnecessary technical support services. These tech “experts” pretend to know everything about your computer, how it got hacked and many other details that help them gain your trust and convince victims to fall prey for their scams. Quite often they’ll direct you to your own Windows system information and persuade you that what you are seeing is evidence of tampering (when it’s not) and try to get some fixing and maintenance money from you. Often, they’ll want to charge a lot but drop their price dramatically and that’s a good sign that they are con artists. You can tell them to piss off at this point as this is complete nonsense. 

  • Do not trust phone calls coming from people pretending to come from tech “experts”, especially if they are requesting personal or financial information; 
  • DO NOT PROVIDE sensitive data to them or purchase any software services scammers may suggest you as a solution to fix your tech problem. 
  • DO NOT allow strangers to remotely access your computer and potentially install malicious software; 

SEO Scams 

With the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) being widely used, many self-titled “SEO Experts” have popped up, making unrealistic promises and offering guaranteed rankings. Nowadays, you can’t go more than a few hours without receiving some spam email about Search Engine Optimization, or a cold call from an “SEO guru” who can make all your Internet Marketing dreams come true. The best defense against SEO scams is becoming more educate about the subject. 

  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Avoid any company that makes this claim. This is something you can take on yourself with the use of Google Keyword Planner or SEM Rush. These online tools will help you research the highest performing pages in web analytics to see where you can improve. 
  • Avoid free or cheap trials. It’s just not possible. All they are after is your FTP username and password and then they have control. 
  • Any legitimate SEO company should be able to explain what they will do to your site, as well as outline their link building strategy. If they can’t then avoid them. 
  • They are Google algorithm experts. Of course, they don’t. They might be aware of certain aspects. 
  • The responsibility for success lies largely with you. Fixing technical issues such as checking meta tags, adding H1 tags and updating your sitemap are small aspects. Your site needs good content and good partnering. 
  • Check the reputation of the company. This is harder than you think. Companies use online reputation managers. 
  • Treat this like any other purchase. You would normally make the first contact and compare a number of companies. So, do the same with SEO sales companies. 

So just be mindful of what you are clicking on. Carefully research any claims made. Fine tune your bullshit detector and take your time, there’s really no rush. 

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