Online fraud occurs when a scammer acts as a legitimate organization in order to gain access to your personal information and make illegal transactions with your account. This type of fraud may also be referred to as a phishing or spoofing scam. It can occur through email, websites, and pop-up windows.
Fraud using fake emails is often the easiest to detect, though they can appear legitimate. Emails that ask you for personal information are usually phishing scams. Such emails will often have a common greeting with the body of the email stating that your information has been compromised. The email will then ask you to input your account number, Social Security number, or other identifying information. A legitimate credit card company or bank will never ask you for your personal information through an email or link to their website.
Some online fraud schemes are done through emails offering you work-at-home jobs. You may be prompted to fill out a tax form or enter your Social Security number or other personal information to acquire a position with the company. This is usually done as an attempt to steal your identity. Illegitimate work-at-home accounting jobs threaten the identity of you and the customers whose account information you are inputting, making you an unknown accessory in the fraudulent scheme.
Be wary of online fraud schemes that involve fake prizes or gift certificates. In order for you to win these prizes, many scammers require that you complete a survey, then slyly ask you for your personal information at the end of it. This is often entered without a second thought.
You may avoid being a victim of online fraud if you take certain precautionary steps. The most important step you can take to prevent being scammed or having your identity stolen is to never open emails from unknown senders; if you don't know who it is, delete it. If it appears that the message may possibly be from your bank or credit card company, call the company directly. Emails that request your passwords or personal information are likely fraudulent, as legitimate companies already have access to that information and should never ask for it in an email or over the phone.
In order to avoid receiving fraudulent pop-ups, update your spyware and anti-virus software. Many programs will install a firewall on your computer that won't allow these pop-up ads through. If you do receive a pop-up, close it immediately and never enter your information. Legitimate companies will never ask for your information through a pop-up ad.
The key to avoiding online fraud is to keep your personal information private. Unless you went to a verified website through your own actions, never input this information online. If you encounter a phishing scam or other forms of online fraud, report it to your email provider as well as official agencies, such as the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in the US, to help prevent an unknowing person from becoming a victim of fraud.