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3 Sneaky New Online Scams to Avoid
By Erika Stalder
Most of us can recognize a shady email or Facebook post when we see one. I mean, how many of us actually know a Nigerian prince, right?
But hackers are pulling fresh tricks to dupe us into parting with our money or privacy. In the past four months alone, instances of malware on mobile phones have doubled, making smartphones a hotbed for wrongdoers. And according to the Federal Trade Commission, 9 million Americans lose their identity to hackers every year.
Don’t want to become a stat? Here are the three new online scams and how to avoid them:
Online Scam: Your Dating Match Is Actually a Fraud.
How it works: That guy may not be an actual serviceman, but a scammer hoping to work his way from you heart to your wallet. The Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) has been notified of this scam hundreds of times in the past six months. The CID says the scammers assume the identity of real-life soldiers, coupling their names and ranks with photos of other soldiers found online. Sometimes, the scammers paint the Army as a downtrodden entity, in which soldiers need pay for Internet connections, leave papers, medical treatment, special laptops, international telephones or a flight home from Iraq or Afghanistan.
How to steer clear: Army CID spokesperson Chris Grey says that the Army has plenty of support programs for soldiers overseas and that an actual soldier would not be making such monetary requests. The CID warns women to be suspicious of the following:
Online Scam: A Simple Celeb Search Brings You Viruses.
How it works: This latest online scam plants viruses on PCs when gossip seekers search for stars online. Heidi Klum is currently the most dicey celebrity to search on the Web. Searches of “free downloads,” “videos” or “screensavers” coupled with her name stand a 1-in-10 chance of installing malware on otherwise clean PCs.
How to steer clear: Install an antivirus and antispyware program on your computer and devices. Limit widespread Google searches for sexy celeb pics. Instead, search within a well-known Hollywood blog, like PerezHilton.com or OMG.Yahoo.com.
Online Scam: Your New Favorite App Isn’t an App at All.
How it works: What you really downloaded was a
dangerous program in disguise that sends unauthorized texts from your
phone and racks up your phone bill. Equally common is a program with
which hackers steal your personal information, compromising your
identity. Last year, an estimated 4.6 million Android users downloaded a
seemingly innocent Star Wars and My Little Pony branded
wallpapers to their phones, which collected and sent user data, like
subscriber identification and phone numbers, to a site in China.
Have you ever fallen for an online scam? Share your story in our message board below.
Like this article? Connect with us @EveryDayConnect
Erika Stalder has written about technology for Gizmodo.com, Wired.com and Wired magazine. The author of five nonfiction books for teens also pens a teen advice column on ABCFamily.com.
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