Internet scams are only too common, I hear of many on an almost daly basis. I'll give you some tips to help you avoid getting scammed in this post. To help you remember what to watch out for remember this Mnemonic:
Let's look at each of these headings...
SCHEMING - Online scammers will often either try to deceive you by pretending to be someone or something else, or will try to lure you in with offers or deals that seam too good to be true (they usually are). Sometimes they'll try to trick you in to thinking you've won a competition (THINK! Did you ever enter that competition?). Golden Rule... Treat EVERYTHING with suspicion, take a moment and just think "Does this feel right?". DELETE - RUN AWAY - IGNORE
CRAFTY - Scammers are now turning to less conventional means to gain access to your computer, or even your wallet. As most people are becoming much more clued-up on keeping safe online the scammers often rely on non-technical approaches such as calling you on the phone and pretending to be a genuine company. I myself am not immune to this approach, I once received a phone call from "Microsoft Explorer", the not-Gentleman explained my computer had a virus and that I should follow his instructions immediately to avoid loss of data (or something like that). I kept the scammer on the phone for about an hour and then revealed I was on a Mac... he was NOT amused! This brings me on to the next heading...
AGGRESSIVE - My scammer immediately became aggressive and let's just say wasn't very polite! I of course new exactly what I was doing in my little pay-back game (don't do that at home folks!). At the point where the scammer feels he's loosing you (you're becoming suspicious) he will attempt to make you feel intimidated, stupid, flustered or even sorry for him, these are all tactics... DON'T FALL FOR IT!
MALICIOUS - And finally if they're not after you wallet they may simply be trying to infect your computer with Malware. Now if you're on a Mac you probably thinking I'm alright I'm on a Mac, they can't touch me, well you're WRONG! Macs do indeed have very good security, BUT that security can't protect YOU from YOU. If you enter your system password in when the nice man asks you to that simply saves him having to hack your system. DON'T DO ANYTHING THEY ASK YOU TO... HANG UP!
In summary... If you think that email or phone call is genuine, contact that company (looking up the contact details yourself - don't use the contact details they give you, they could be false) directly, you'll then find out if you've cleverly avoided a scam.
My thoughts... I still believe there are more good people in the world than bad people but stay vigilant as they're banking (quit literally) on your kindness!
Hope this helps... Marc (aka The Computer Wiz) Simmons | See also my post on Antivirus