Online scams have been around since the dawn of the internet – and the COVID-19 pandemic has opened the door to a wave of new online scams. Scammers target Americans in particular, and they sometimes focus on Baby Boomers, as they believe they are easy targets.
Read on to learn about 5 Common Online scams and how to avoid becoming a victim.
Common Ways Boomers Get Scammed
This type of scam has been around for a while, and it tries to tap into humans’ desire to do good. There are countless iterations of these scams, but they all essentially consist of you receiving an unsolicited message (usually an email) to donate money to a good cause.
Some scammers are even setting up phony charity web pages and advertising on Facebook groups and digital ads, so don’t just be vigilant about this type of scam when checking your email inbox.
A telltale sign of a charity being a scam is them only accepting untraceable payment methods, such as Amazon giftcards or a cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, but this isn’t a sure-fire rule to follow as some scammers may also accept other payment methods.
Online shopping scams have gone through the roof as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with scammers trying to capitalize on our increased reliance on online shopping during this turbulent period.
These scams involve scammers creating online stores and driving traffic to them, either via blackhat search engine optimization (SEO) techniques or digital ads, and selling defective or ultra-low quality products, before quickly deleting the websites and setting up new ones.
Email, Text & Phone Scams
There are hundreds of different scams which are peddled via email, text messages and over the phone. These vary from “advance-fee scams”, which essentially consist of you paying a relatively small fee in exchange for a much larger payment shortly after. Of course, this promised payment never comes through and the scammer simply takes your money and never replies.
Innovative scammers immediately realized that the COVID-19 presented a huge opportunity for them to scam people out of their money. There are many different types of coronavirus-related scams, from fake job offers requiring upfront payment, to shopping scams for hand sanitizer, face masks and fake COVID-19 cures.
There’s a growing number of scams – of varying levels of sophistication – which can hurt your credit score, so it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on your credit. The US’ three national credit reporting agencies – namely Equifax, TransUnion and Experian – are offering free, weekly credit reports until the end of this month, so it’s a good idea to make use of this.
A Quick Summary
- The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a wave of new online scams cropping up in the US and beyond.
- Scammers sometimes focus on Baby Boomers, as they believe they are the easiest targets, so it’s important to be very vigilant when browsing the web, reading text messages, or receiving calls from callers you don’t know.
- Fake charity scams are definitely something to look out for, and it’s usually quite easy to spot a phony charity, as they will typically only accept donations via untraceable payment methods, though this isn’t always the case.
- Other common scams include online shopping scams and COVID-19 scams which may promise miracle cures or simply sell low-quality/defective face masks, for example.
- You should also watch out for email scams, such as “advance-fee scams” which promise you a large payment for a small initial cost but would just take your money.