Online Security, Coping With Online Fraud

The rapid pace at which the internet has developed is truly amazing. The uses to which the Internet has been put is equally impressive. You have people doing business over the internet, at both retail and wholesale levels. Students use the internet to study, everybody makes use of the internet to communicate through emails. Banking, insurance, gambling and almost every other business has become reliant on the internet to at least a certain extent. While singing the praises of the Internet, we also need to be aware of the dangers that it brings in. When you use your credit card on the internet to book a hotel room in another continent, the system does not 'see' you as the true owner of the card. The system does not see your credit card either. So you just enter specific details that are meant to be confidential, only you are supposed to have knowledge about those details. Now what if, another person could get access to those bits of confidential data that relate you to your credit card? That other person could use your credit card to make online purchases too! When we talk of the 'cyber' world, there is no need to physically have your credit card in hand, just the related data is sufficient to make a financial transaction. Getting the data is not difficult as it seems, the bad elements on the Internet are already causing real damage to businesses and general users. This intereting article on internet frauds gets you the real picture.


Fraud targets: It is important to understand the areas where cyber criminals (online fraudsters) try to attack. This is the motivating factor for online fraud. Once we are aware of these we will move on to discuss how, these online frauds are perpetuated. Financial data is the most sought after information in online frauds cases. Credit card numbers and related data and banking information like usernames and passwords fall in this category. Email access: The online security threat in this case needs to be understood, the fraudster tries to get the login details for your email accounts. Armed with that information, various frauds and scam emails can be sent through your email address. Social security details: Such information once robbed will probably be used to fake the true owners identity. Basically, someone would be using your name, your social security number and probably your credit card number too. Web hosting: A bit more technical, this online fraud tries to load dangerous program coding on to the server that hosts your website. You will understand this better in the next few paragraphs.

Methods used: We will now discuss the technics used by online fraudsters to accomplish their objectives. Being aware of this will itself push you to be more careful. We will also provide some useful suggestions, all with the hope of making your online experience more enjoyable and less risky.

Financial data: When it comes to bank accounts or online money services like Paypal, the critical information needed to access an account and make a transaction is the user name and password. Online fraudsters try to get this information through mass emailing. Emails are randomly sent to thousands of internet users. The email basically says that your Paypal account needs to be confirmed or updated on a particular issue. A link is provided right on the fraudulent email for you to click and enter your login details.

Once you click the link on the email, you are taken to a web page that looks strikingly similar to the genuine web page of the bank or other financial service website. This is the dangerous part, your login details once entered on this bogus web page are transferred to the online fraudster. If follow the instructions in the email, you are a new victim for this vicious online security threat.

Here is a suggestion to keep you away from such online frauds. Never click any links in emails that you receive. Even if you are 100% sure that it is a genuine email, there are better ways to handle the situation. Open up a fresh browser screen, type in the complete name of the website (URL) and take the required action.    

 Hijacking email accounts: This online threat has been gaining momentum in recent years. This is another online fraud that is perpetuated through emails. You receive an email telling you to login to your email account by clicking on a link in the email. The email you receive might say that your account needs to be updated, your inbox is too full and some old emails need to be deleted etc. The login takes you to a fake page that can appear almost like a regular login page. Once you enter your username and password, the fraudster captures the information and starts to own your account. In most cases, the existing password will be changed by the fraudster.

What now happens is interesting. Every type of online fraud that can be implemented through the email system, can be done through your email address! Positively dangerous if the activity conducted in the name of your email address is of criminal nature.

The suggestions for this problem are similar to those for financial accounts. Never click a link in an email that you receive to access your email account. Type the entire URL in a fresh browser screen. If the email account is a paid service, you could contact the service provider as soon as possible and take remedial action. In most cases, this kind of action comes too late, so prevention is better than cure.  

Pilfering social security details: Once again an online security threat that creeps in through emails. The email could claim that you are due for a Tax refund. It might even warn you that your records are being scrutinized for tax evasion! The exact content of the email could keep changing but, the purpose is the same.

Follow these simple tips to stay away from this online security threat. Never click email links in an email. Use a call helpline with the IRS and check the authenticity of the email. Talk your accountant or lawyer and discuss the details.

 Web hosting malware: While this is a bit technical, it is important too. The ease with which websites can be made and hosted has drawn thousands of novices to the field. This online threat can be very dangerous and we will try to keep the explanation as simple as possible.

You receive an email that is supposed to be written by your web hosting service provider. The email comes with an attachment, a dangerous file. The email says that your web hosting needs to be updated with an important security patch. You are told to download the file that came with this email and upload it to your web host space. The fraudster might even give you instructions on how to easily handle this technical issue.

 If you follow the procedures in the email, and upload the file to your web space what follows can be very dangerous. The file which is infact an executable program can pilfer confidential information from your site. It can also be used to spread malware programs to anyone who visits your website. The program could even operate as a small email spamming source, the fraudster can spam in the name of your account.

Lottery prize: This racket is better referred to as an online fraud. You get the wonderful email that a random draw of email addresses picked your email address as the winner! You are entitled to a price of a few hundred thousand dollars. For the extra greedy among us, the email sometimes claims that the prize is a few million dollars. You need to contact the person mentioned in the email with details of your name, address, phone number and even bank account.

Follow this 'prize getting proccess and you will be requested to pay a few hundred dollars for various fees. After all, what is a few hundred dollars compared to a few hundred thousand! Be prepared to kiss those dollars goodbye, you will never hear of the fraudster again. And the additional bad news is that the fraudster has all your personal information that you revealed. Avoid reacting to these emails, just delete them and thank yourself that you did so.

Huge fund: An online fraud that takes hundreds of innocent victims for a ride each year. But to be honest, it is plain greed that draws people to fall for such rackets. You receive an email, a guy has millions of dollars stashed away safely. The email could claim that the funds came from inheritence, by receiving over invoiced amounts on government projects etc. The money could also be in the hands of a terminally ill patient who wants to donate all of it to charity! You might be promised all the money or a generous part of it for your services.

The operation follows the lines of the lottery prize fraud. The email will ask you to send all details including, name, address and bank information. In the next few emails you will receive emails asking for small dollar amounts (a few hundred or thousand dollars) as legal fees or other similar charges. The more you pay the more you lose. When the fraudster realizes that you are getting suspicious of the whole thing, he will stop the communication and walk of with what you have paid so far.

Collecting agent: This is a neat trick and can cause you great hardship even in legal trems. An email claims to come from a very busy and prosperous business man. He sells some great merchandise all over the world or in a specific country. He needs someone to receive payments from his customers. You could keep a percentage of the payments received and send the balance to him.

If you are interested, you need to provide all details including name, address, phone number, copy of ID card, bank details etc. After all this is money business and the email sender needs to ensure that you are honest!

The story becomes more serious and interesting. The fraudster advertises and sells merchandise. The actual buyer is requested to pay the price to you (collecting agent). You receive the money, keep a part of it and transfer the remaining to the fraudster (unknowingly). The money has a nice trail that can be tracked, remember it went through your bank account. The fraudster never delivers the goods or service that was paid for to the actual buyer. You are the only one who can be tracked and traced, you become the prime suspect in this online fraud.

ATM card waiting: This one is a big fraud, coming through an email to you. The contents of the email would say something like, your ATM card with a prepaid value of a few million dollars has arrived. It is at the courier, you got to contact the courier at the email or phone number provided in the email. You will then be asked to pay a small sum of 150 U.S$ for a fee as the email sender has already borne all other charges for you. You basically will lose the 150 U.S$ if you fall into the trap and make the payment.

Scam compensation: This email fraud shows that even the bad guys have strategy and marketing knowledge. In view of the thousands of innocent victims being exposed to online fraud each year, a special fund has been set up by the rich and powerful nations. They want to compensate you with a fat sum of money to relieve you of all the mysery that online fraud brought you. Beware of this scam, you will lose money if you do anything further on this email.

The scams are endless, each year millions of dollars is lost to these cyber thugs. Very few of them actually get caught and convicted. However it is not right to say that the internet is unsafe for business transactions. Billions of dollars are spent and received over the internet each year. You need to harness the goodness of the cyber world while staying updated with new developments. Another important thing is to share your experience on online security and frauds. This will go a long way in bringing public awareness. It is a good idea to send the link of this article to your friends and collegues, they will always be grateful to you for this kind act. Email us at with any comments or suggestions that you might have.