Watch out for these hoaxes and scams

If you receive an email message that sounds credible, do you check it out before you action it or forward it to your friends? Not everything you read is true, so let’s look at some common hoaxes and scams.

‘Send us your money’ scams, purely designed to get money from you:

Domain name scams –Watch for a renewal invoice asking you to pay for the continued registration of your internet ‘domain name’ (e.g. mybusinessname.com), except it’s not from the company that your domain name is registered with. Also, watch for a warning that someone else wants to register a domain name that resembles yours, and advises you to register these names yourself first.

Business advertising invoices – These invoices are sent to small businesses for advertising that was never purchased and, in some cases, doesn’t even exist.

Free iPhone or iPad – These state that you can get a free iPhone or iPad by completing a survey and giving out your cell phone number or by completing a number of ‘offers’. Read the fine print, as you may be signing up to a premium monthly service that will appear on your mobile bill. The offers are ‘affiliate links’ which earn the site owner a commission every time you complete one.

Surprise lottery win or inheritance – You’ve won a lottery you never entered, usually in a foreign country, or a long-lost relative has died and left you a lot of money. Either way, you need to send them money as a processing fee to release the funds.

Stranger needing money – The sender may try to build up a rapport with your first, before telling you a sad story about why they need money.

‘Forward this message’ scams are designed to generate large volumes of messages, which may actually crash some email systems. They rely on your good nature to warn your friends, or a special offer for tracking your email forwarding, which is not technically possible.

Free giveaways or cash donations – These scams promise that you will receive things for free if 1,000 people receive a copy of the email. The giveaways included cash, theme park tickets, computers, cars, phones and gift certificates for brand name clothing. A variation on this promises a ’10 cent donation’ to a sick child for every email sent.

Misinformation – Many warnings that circulate via email and social media are untrue. These include cell phone numbers being made available to telemarketers, alerts about fake computer viruses and warnings about changes to sites like Facebook.

Protect your own credibility and research any information before passing it on to your friends. Call your local Computer Troubleshooter if you’re unsure about anything that you have received or for any of your technology needs.