The best way to protect yourself against online scams is to learn about them. Here are three web sites that report scams. By browsing these sites a little each week, you will become knowledgable about these scams and learn to recognize when someone is trying to pull one on you.
On this tutorial I'm basically going to assign you a little bit of homework that I think could save a lot of people a lot of trouble and money. There are so many different scams out there online. The internet has made it easy for scammers to get to more people than ever before.
There are three websites that I want to point out that if you look at the information they have about scams and you read about it you will become more educated and it will be less likely that you will fall for one of these. Thousands of people fall for these each day and it is a mistake to think that you are too smart to fall for one of these because scam artists will often master scams so well that it is easy to fall for them.
So the first site I want to point you to is Snopes.com. Now you may know this site as a site that debunks rumors online and everything like that but the first link here on the top left is for scams. They list some top scams. Some of these you may have heard of like, for instance, the Nigerian Scam. People always fall for these all the time or foreign lottery where you get an email saying that there is some money coming to you and please contact them. While it seems like someone wants to give me money what could be the scam? But it turns out after they string you along for awhile you have to send a little bit of money to get a lot. Of course there is no lot of money to get. You are just sending them a little bit of money and you never see that again. So it is important not to fall for those and not to waste your time on any of those.
The second site I want to send you to is reddit.com/r/scams. Subreddit here everyday is filled with people asking questions is this a scam, how does this scam work, and all that. If you go this site just maybe once a week just to read what is there, spend a little bit time, you will really educate yourself about the current scams. This is kind of all in real time. This is happening now. People are posting what is happening to them today.
Some of the most common scams that keep happening over and over again are when somebody promises you money, like it is a job or they are answering a Craig's List ad for something you have for sale, something where they are going to be sending you money, and you think what could possibly be the scam and you get a check from them. Usually the check is written for more than the amount. Say it is supposed to be two hundred dollars to you for doing a job or selling something and they send you three hundred dollars and they ask you to wait for the check to clear and then send them back, via Western Union or something, the difference. Of course the thing that they are preying on there is the fact that it actually takes weeks for a check to really clear, even though the money might be in your account. That is just your bank trusting you. In actuality two or three weeks later you could get that charge reversed, that money is pulled out of your account, and you have already wired money back to them.
This scam happens so often in so many different flavors, that it is just interesting to read here all the different ways that this check cashing scam is pulled on people. Once you start reading a lot of these you see a pattern and you'll be less likely to fall for them.
The third site I want to send you to is one run by the U.S. government where they have all sorts of information about all sorts of different types of scams and ways to protect yourself. So it is important to read some of this information here. This, of course, won't change as often but they do have some new articles posted all the time to understand these different things.
They talk about things like for instance a common one today is getting an email from someone you kind of may know but not talk to too often like a cousin or friend. They claim they are traveling and they are in trouble and they need money from you. You send the money thinking you are helping them out when in fact it is just their email that has been hacked, just hacked email. They actually are not traveling at all and are safe and sound. You just sent money to a scammer somewhere else that basically just hacked their email and sent this please help me, send me money email to all of their contacts hoping that one of them just might send money.
So visit these three sites and try to visit them pretty regularly. Especially the reddit site here because you can see that these are all pretty much updated almost everyday with new things here. They are pretty recent.
Just take a little time to read these and you'll know a little bit more about them and you'll be less likely to fall for online scams.
Snopes Top Scams Page
Reddit Scams Subreddit
On Guard Online