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.
“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 So be careful next time you see a pop-up ad that says “Your computer is infected” or “Your video player might be outdated.”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.
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