People from all age groups are on the internet today, but it is a fact that teenagers might be using it the most. As an adult, especially if you have had access to the internet since you were a teenager, some things might start boring you. Still, for teenagers, everything is somewhat new and exciting, as they have only had their phones, social media, and more for a relatively short time. Additionally, many sites are more or less targeted to teens, increasing their popularity among that age group.
Of course, in combination with the fact that teenagers are almost children, they do not have much life experience and are often quite trusting, making the teens an ideal target for scammers. As always, scammers are pretty creative and can cause many believable-looking scams in attempts to extort money or personal information from teens. Some scams are more common than others, which is good, as knowing what they are can help a teenager prevent falling for it.
A widespread scam type is a social media scam. Social media can be used by scammers in many ways, especially considering its popularity among teens. A popular one is to make a fake dramatic-sounding article about celebrities that takes you to a malicious website instead when you click on it. Additionally, scammers might contact a person through direct message, offering an opportunity to join a competition for a fabulous prize. Still, they need you to either provide your info or click on the link they send to infect your device with malware or extract your private information.
Another one includes fake advertisements or giveaways offering luxury goods that might be attractive to teenagers, such as smartphones, branded clothing, and more. You are asked to either pay very little for those, in which case you might simply get either a bootleg item or nothing in the end, or to provide your personal or credit card information, which poses much more significant security risks. With that information, scammers can impersonate you, spend your money, and more.
After high school, many teens are planning to go to a university. In some countries, it is not incredibly expensive, but in some… it is. The scholarship scam comes into play especially firmly there, as the teens are often desperately looking for a scholarship that will help them and their families go through university without acquiring an enormous amount of debt. One could say this is one of the more cruel scams targeted at teenagers, as it plays with a severe issue.
Fraudulent scholarships can be made in many ways. For example, a person might need to pay a registration fee, which, of course, goes straight into the pockets of the scammers, so not only do you not receive the scholarship, you also lose your own money. A similar scam revolves around a supposed scholarship raffle that, once again, requires paying cash in advance for a ‘fee’ related most commonly to ‘tax.’ Still, the money instead goes to scammers again.
Teenagers often start looking for jobs quite early, wanting to help their families or earn some pocket money. Unfortunately, scammers prey on that by creating fake job openings on legitimate websites that seem realistic at first glance. Still, instead, their goal is obtaining personal information from their victims so they can use it for nefarious purposes.
Catfishing is another cruel scamming technique. Many people are looking for love online in the internet era, hoping to find someone they will be happy with. Scammers will make fake profiles and contact people in hopes of making them fall for the fake persona they have created. After they succeed, they can ask for money, gifts, or they can obtain blackmail material, such as risqué photos or some information the victim shared, believing it would stay confidential.
While scams are everywhere, some ways can help you protect yourself from them. The first rule is to be suspicious of everything. A job offer on the internet? Do a background check on the company that posted it. An enticing scholarship? A web search is your best friend again, along with learning more details about how scholarships function (any fees that need to be paid? Scam). Additionally, if something on the internet seems either too good or too bad to be accurate, it is most likely fake.
That is a golden rule that can always be followed. Did you win something unique randomly? Probably fake. You accidentally committed a crime, and you need to pay a fee to a ‘police officer’ contacting you? Definitely fake. The same goes for people you meet online. While there is a solid chance you might find a friend or even a potential romance, it is even more likely that someone will try to scam you on the internet. Because of that, it is always good to do a reverse image search, as that will most likely uncover a catfish. Even if that does not bring up any red flags, it is always a good idea to research them a bit more, and, of course, to never send them money or any information about yourself that you would not be happy with the general public knowing.
Take a look at our previous article about; QR Codes: Are they safe?
Learn more how to stay safe online; watchdog.dev