Are You the Type to Fall for Online Fraud?

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A new study pinpoints a set of attributes that make people more susceptible to online fraud. Are you at risk?

Are you at risk of falling victim to online fraud? Now you can find out with a checklist of sorts from AARP.

“Caught in the Scammer’s Net” outlines 15 key behaviors, life experiences and knowledge attributes that make a person more vulnerable to fraud. Based on the study findings, 1 in 5 Internet-using adults, or 34 million people, engage in at least seven of the 15 risk behaviors, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming victims.

Here’s a brief look at some of the behaviors that AARP says make you more vulnerable to online fraud:

  • Clicking on pop-up ads. One simple click can install computer malware, designed to gather sensitive information or disrupt computer operation.
  • Opening email from strangers. Again, this puts you at risk of inadvertently installing malware and exposes you to “detail-seeking phishing in emails,” says AARP.
  • Downloading apps. This is yet another method to install malware.
  • Selling products online. Scammers can pose as buyers on popular online auction sites, often paying with counterfeit checks or money orders.
  • Signing up for “free trial” offers. These so-called free offers often lock buyers into contracts that are difficult to cancel.

The report also finds that losing a job or experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation are risk factors.

According to CNBC:

“Signing up for a free trial won’t guarantee you’ll be scammed, but if you do so during a vulnerable time after you’ve lost money or lost a job, you may be at a higher risk of being victimized,” said AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond.

Two-thirds of Americans who use the Internet received at least one online scam offer in 2013, AARP says. So be careful next time you see a pop-up ad that says “Your computer is infected” or “Your video player might be outdated.” Chances are it’s a trick. Don’t fall for it.

Have you been a victim of online fraud? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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