Online Scam Questions and Answers
What Is an Online Scam?
Computer scams, also known as online scams, do not differentiate a lot from normal scams in their core. Cybercriminals who create scams online lie to you and want to trick you into doing some action, be it giving them personal information they can use or clicking somewhere so they can gain benefits from that. An informative post such as this one will make you familiar with the main types of scams and how to potentially avoid them. Continue reading, because no one is safe on the Internet and having the right knowledge can make you better prepared when you are faced against an online scam.
An online scam may be harmful to your computer or try to work with social engineering and stress you into acting quickly without giving it much thought. That is how the majority of them work and the texts and visuals behind them are constructed in order to manipulate you on a psychological level to draw you into believing the scam.
Types of Online Scams
Numerous online scams circle the Internet time and time again, but we will discuss only the most common ones, while trying to explain the basic ideas behind them. Knowledge about them will help you into being better prepared when you see those online scams or new ones. Even if you witness a scam online that is not at all similar to the ones described in this article, you should be able to remember what you have read here and act accordingly without becoming the next victim of a new scam.
Technical Support Scams
Most common type of scam you will bump into is one surrounding Tech Support. A technical support scam is when telephone fraud is involved, while your computer or browser screen shows something unusual with a telephone number. Scammers claim to give legitimate technical support service, as if they are IT Support employees of a reliable firm. Frequently such these involve cold calls to unsuspecting users.
Targeted users are Microsoft Windows operation system owners in the majority of cases, so logically the scammers claim to be part of a Microsoft tech support team or from Windows Technical Support. Mac users are also being targeted in the last couple of years and even more often than in the past. Fraudsters claim to work for Apple in those cases.
In English-speaking countries such as the United States of America, Canada, and the UK, such telephone scams have been around since 2008 while the callers usually originate from call centers in India.
Here is how a technical support scam happens – cybercriminals try getting a potential victim to allow remote access his or her computer online. That happens as an unsuspecting user comes across a Web page on the Internet that either shows a message or redirects and downloads a file which locks the screen and then shows said message. The message always tries to scare you into panic-calling a phone number shown on the screen.
Screen messages are hundreds, but they always claim that something is wrong with your computer, such as:
- You are banned
- You have lost Internet connection
- Your Windows / Mac has a virus or other malware
- You have been hacked
- Your credential details and banking data may be leaked
- You have an error like a BSOD screen
- Your browser, software or drivers need a critical update
- Your firewall is down
Other and more innovative reasons may appear in these online scams for criminals to try and trick you into calling them. They will ask for remote access via FastSupport, TeamViewer, AnyDesk, LogMeIn, GoToAssist which are legitimate services, but used in these situations. In case you allow them remote access to your device, the con artists will try to convince you even more by involving Windows software or other equally popular programs, to gain your trust and try to make you pay for the support service.
If you go a step further and enter your credit card details, you will be taxed for the service, but with a bigger sum that you agreed on, while the scammer saying that he understood you wanted a monthly service for a year or something of the sort. Then, when you request a refund, you will be asked to login with your bank account somewhere. That data will be stolen, and the scammer will steal even more money, while claiming that you are on a secure server and he cannot see anything going on.
The phone call ends, you are suspicious of the scammer, but reassured by him that he is not involved, your device is fixed, but you are robbed of your money (some of which you don’t know about yet).
Phishing and Gift Card Scams
The next type of scams are the newer Gift Card scams and around since 2015 and maybe a bit earlier than that, but massively popular in the last couple of years. Those involve you being tricked into buying a Gift Card for a big online site such as Amazon or Walmart. You could also be tricked to enter a raffle to win such a card after answering a short survey or just fill your bank details. If you go for it, you will be robbed out of your money and left with no way to spend the alleged gift card.
These online scams are more straightforward and rely more on action from the user without anybody forcing them to do anything. Victims feel happy and excited to get their hands on a gift card for cheap or for free that they follow the short instructions on screen. Gift Card scams can also be perceived as Indirect Phishing scams as they only take the logo of a big company for the gift card without claiming the scam website being in any affiliation with the official company.
Phishing scams are another type of online scams to which Gift Card scams can easily be placed as a sub-type. Phishing scams involve a website or a single Web page designed to look exactly the same as the original so victims to be tricked into entering their login and credit card details into said website. Sometimes they also take spam email messages to include a message, link and picture so users can click on them and get redirected to the scam.
Phishing scams have websites that copy the URL address, logos, brand, copyright text, placement, colours, pages and most details about a company to near perfect match. DHL has numerous of pages that look convincingly enough for users to fall victim to them. Other companies of such caliber also fall victim to that copying in order for scammers to get the money from people who enter them and believe what they see without checking.
Winning Prizes Scams
Winning Prizes scams are exactly what their name suggests – scams which lie to you that you have won a prize. iPhone X, LG, popular headphones, a TV, a computer, a car, and many more prizes are promised if you get involved at clicking on links or filling out a survey. Logging in with your bank details is a dead giveaway that something is wrong, but people still fall for it.
After believing you have won or that you are exactly that one millionth visitor and you enter your details, you will be robbed of your money. Rarely, such scams are not interested in getting your money, or at least not directly, but want you to download some software, which is either a rogue anti-virus or a virus itself.
Sextortion scams have been around for a long time, but the most popular ones are from 2019 and early 2020, involving spam emails. Such emails are usually flagged by the mail services, so they are easier to avoid.
You open your email and get a message that you are hacked. You laugh it off, click to read it out of curiosity, only to find out that the hacker actually knows one of your passwords. It is an old, previously used password by you, but that is still personal information that you haven’t shared. Now you are beginning to read, and the more you go through, the more convinced you become.
The alleged hacker claims to have seen and recorded you pleasuring yourself and that if you do not pay in cryptocurrency to some address, the video will be sent to your friends and family. Of course that is a lie, and most such scams in the beginning were filled with all kinds of mistakes, even the BitCoin address being wrong or inactive, but they are evolving.
The most important things to do for preventing online scams is to read about them, think when such a situation happens and be suspicious of every problematic situation on your computer involving money. Be extra careful and always check the URL address.
What Can I Do After You Have Fallen Victim to a Scam?
If you are a scam victim online, these are the actions you could take:
- Call your bank and card provider, freeze your cards and arrange a physical meeting
- Shut down your Internet
- Scan your computer with an anti-malware software
- Change your passwords
- Check the scammer phone number in the Internet and alert people
Be careful and stay vigilant. Think before you act and always be suspicious of errors you haven’t seen before on your device. Call a friend or somebody tech-savvy you know before calling numbers of strangers that are seen on your screen.
- Guide 1: How to Remove from Windows.
- Guide 2: Get rid of from Mac OS X.
- Guide 3: Remove from Google Chrome.
- Guide 4: Erase from Mozilla Firefox.
- Guide 5: Uninstall from Microsoft Edge.
- Guide 6: Remove from Safari.
- Guide 7: Eliminate from Internet Explorer.
How to Remove from Windows.
Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove
Step 2: Uninstall and related software from Windows
Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it.
Step 3: Clean any registries, created by on your computer.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
Get rid of from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall and remove related files and objects
1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
- Go to Finder.
- In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
- Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
- If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.
In case you cannot remove via Step 1 above:
In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.
Step 2: Scan for and remove malware from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts, programs and malware, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. Combo Cleaner offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.
Remove from Google Chrome.
Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu
Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"
Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Erase from Mozilla Firefox.
Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window
Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.
Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Uninstall from Microsoft Edge.
Step 1: Start Edge browser.
Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.
Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".
Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.
Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.
Remove from Safari.
Step 1: Start the Safari app.
Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.
Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".
Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.
Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.
Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.
A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the will be removed.
Eliminate from Internet Explorer.
Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.
Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'
Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.
Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.
Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.