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6 common online scams to watch out for

Whether it’s your next love, new furniture, or handy tips, you can find almost anything on the internet—including a whole array of online scams. Here, learn about six of the most common ones.

4 min read

Between Instagram scammers, fraudulent websites, and catfishing accounts on dating apps, there’s a lot to watch out for when you’re spending time online. You’ve probably already received your fair share of suspicious messages and seen plenty of spam posts floating around. In this article, you’ll learn more about six common online scams. 

Common social media and internet scams

Online fraud is everywhere these days—fortunately, you can avoid online scams simply by being aware of them. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed! Here are some of the most common ones:

1. Online shopping scams

One popular technique is the online shopping scam. A fraudulent website will be designed to look like a genuine business, complete with items to browse, a virtual shopping cart, and the usual checkout process. The site appears to be trustworthy—or maybe you’ve even been unknowingly redirected to a copy of your favorite online shop through pharming. Fortunately, one tell-tale sign of a malicious website is a warning in the URL bar that reads “Not Secure.” Legitimate business owners know how important it is to have a trustworthy website and protect their customers’ data, so the secure symbol is something you should always look out for. Read our other tips on how to keep your money safe when you shop online.

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2. Phishing emails

Phishing is one of the most common forms of online fraud. When you’ve been targeted, you receive an email or SMS that appears to be from a genuine source, like your bank or an online shop. The actual sender wants you to click on a link in the fake message so you’ll download malware on your computer or phone, giving the scammer access to your sensitive information. That’s why you should always look closely at any links you receive and think twice before opening them. For more information on phishing and how to avoid taking the bait, check out our in-depth guide.

3. Romance scams

Love is blind—which means that lovesick people can make ideal targets for cyber criminals. Dating scammers create fake accounts on dating or social media apps and try to steal money from unsuspecting users. The scammer uses stolen pictures for their profile and strikes up a chat with potential victims. After building trust with their victim, the criminal makes up a story, such as a medical emergency, to convince the innocent person to send them money. For the victims, this kind of fraud may cause not only significant financial losses but also psychological and emotional pain. Visit our blog to learn more about romance scams.

4. Fake fundraisers

Most scammers employ social engineering techniques to play on people’s emotions and to override their ability to make logical decisions. The false promise of love is one example; taking advantage of empathy is another. That’s exactly how the fake fundraiser online scam works. Cyber criminals set up an online fundraiser for a charitable cause, including a “sob story” to pull at people’s heartstrings, and encourage them to donate. In reality, it’s all invented so that the fake fundraisers can take the money for themselves.

5. Advance-fee scam

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. People who have been targeted receive an email from someone asking for help to transfer millions of euros, pounds, or dollars. The scammer pretends to be wealthy but says that their funds are inaccessible due to complex legal issues, government restrictions, or even a civil war. Typically posing as a high-ranking official, they offer large sums of money to anyone who will help them. Luckily, this kind of extreme scam should be fairly easy to spot.

6. Job scams

Job scams are all over the internet. They usually promote high-paying, low-effort job offers. In the past, the tactics were more obvious—think, “Click here to get paid €1,000 per day, working from home, with no experience!”—but criminals are becoming more sophisticated. Today, fake job listings may appear very convincing to the untrained eye. For example, LinkedIn has been used by criminals posing as recruiters and messaging people with fake job proposals in order to steal their data. To avoid this scam, always check a new contact’s background before answering them, and never click on links that they send. 

Discover more tips on how to detect online scams in this guide.


Security at N26

At N26, your security is our priority. Besides the security features like 3D Secure or biometric authentication that are included with your N26 account, we regularly update our blog with articles about online fraud methods and how to protect yourself. Learn how to protect your digital identity, what to watch out for when selling things on eBay Kleinanzeigen, and how secure mobile banking works. Or read our guide to creating strong passwords that cybercriminals won’t guess easily. It’s all to help you stay safe online!

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FAQ

What online scams are there?

Online fraud can take many forms. There are fake online shops that look deceptively real, emails full of sneaky links, fraudulent job offers, and heartbreaking romance scams. That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant and always tread with care when it comes to unknown contacts or websites.

What is a scammer?

A scammer is a type of cyber criminal. For example, there are Facebook or Instagram scammers who use fake social media accounts, or job scammers trying to lure you with fake job offers.

How can I detect online fraud?

There are many types of online fraud. Therefore, the strategies for detecting them also depend on the kind of scam you’re dealing with. Generally, stay alert when somebody sends you a strange link, asks for sensitive information, or attempts to get money from you by telling a dramatic story.

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