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9 Online Promises (That Can Signal
Scams Ahead)

online scams

A promise is a valuable thing. 

Promises are at the root of business agreements, interpersonal relationships, and call-to-action buttons that invite people to Click Here or Buy Now.

Scam artists, fraudsters, and criminals often use a promise to lure their potential victims into the scam. An inviting deal or offer is presented to the victim, and this is used to bait them into further interaction.

There are many promises floating around the internet. 

Can you spot the difference between a real online opportunity, or a promise that soon turns into a scam? 

Here's a look at 9 online promises that might signal scams ahead.

1. The Promise Of A "Free" PC Scan Or Virus Check

Banner ads or emails which advertise a FREE PC SCAN or VIRUS CHECK are usually the opposite. Instead of checking your system for anything, you are exposing your network to viruses, malware, and third-party access.

Falling for link-bait leaves your personal information more vulnerable than a duck during hunting season.

Avoid these ads, and websites that are loaded with them. Install a pop-up blocker for your browser as a primary security measure, and check your system using reputable anti-virus software like Kaspersky or AVG.

2. The Promise Of Secondhand Deals

Classified websites are great for finding a deal, if you're careful. 

Scammers use these sites just as often, and the simple Secondhand Scam might have many different forms. A criminal might: 

  • Ask money for goods which are never shipped to the victim.
  • Use false proof of payment to convince a victim that items have been paid for when they haven't.
  • Send photographs that misrepresent the actual item, or its value.
  • Only seek personal details (like a number and address) from the victim.

More extreme varieties of this false promise has led to cases of violent confrontations, assaults, thefts, and other crimes.

Always take care when dealing with online deals, and learn to avoid ones that seem "too good to be true" or as good as a steal. They might be.

3. The Promise Of Employment

Seeking employment can become a desperate search. There are millions of people online who are actively seeking full-time employment, or part-time jobs – and unfortunately, there are probably just as many scams out there.

Employment scams are vast. While some might only fleece the victim out of money (usually paid for non-existent "resources"), other potential employment scams can be dangerous or violent.

Never trust jobs that seem too perfect, and don't believe companies or agents you can't verify, track, or place.

Looking for a job?

  • Stick to verified job-seeking websites.
  • Verify all claimed company registration details.
  • Insist on speaking to business representatives (and ask for relevant proof).
  • Don't believe hype, or promises of exceptional returns.
  • Beware of job interviews that ask you to show up somewhere unverified, or unfamiliar. These scams can have the potential to be more dangerous.

4. The Promise Of Return On Investment

Legitimate investment opportunities exist, but random internet users or posts are not the best way to find any.

If you would like to invest in anything from stocks to property, speak to your bank or a registered financial advisor.

Don't take advice from...

  • Self-proclaimed cryptocurrency experts
  • Unregistered online trading platforms
  • Financial influencers with paid money tips
  • Social media comments with exorbitant promises 

Anything that guarantees returns that seem too exciting, usually leads to a scam.

5. The Promise Of "Legal" Online Gambling

When a website advertises "legal" online gambling, there are two things a user should check. First, their country's gambling laws; second, the legality of the website in question.

Promises of legal online gambling doesn't mean that the gambling operator is a legitimate one. 

This potential scam doesn't just include casino website's but also includes individuals who offer gambling advice or odds online (usually for cash).

Feel like trying your luck? Seek out reputable, registered casino websites only.

6. The Promise Of Love

The internet is a great place to connect, but it's also a great place for scammers to find vulnerable victims. Love through the internet is a common avenue for what's called the catfish scam.

It starts slow, but soon a scam artist might ask for money (or favors) which can add up to thousands over time.

Looking for love online?

Always verify the identity of the person on the other end.

7. The Promise Of "Free" Streaming & Software

Streaming websites like Netflix have viable alternatives, but for every legitimate alternative streaming site, there are ones riddled with scammers and malware.

Be wary of anything that claims to bypass the system, or give you something for free.

The point of malware or viruses? It's getting you to click. Sometimes, the promise of free streaming services is enough to do that. That's what scammers use.

Want to avoid getting caught by malware? Pay for legitimate movies and software.

8. The Promise Of Something (For Nothing) 

Websites, links, or messages that promise users something for nothing often leads straight to viruses, malware, or keyloggers that you don't want around.

The promise of getting something for free is tempting. It's tempting enough for people to click through loops, to fill in surveys, and to volunteer access to their personal details or computers.

Verify any coupons, discounts, or deals with the retailer or website it claims to be from.

- Avoid clicking banner ads or links that promise "free" things. 

9. The Promise Of A Contact Back

"Leave your email address, and we'll contact you back."

This is a popular sentence on social media posts and advertisements. While not all of them are scams, many of them are purely set up for information harvesting purposes. 

Email addresses (and subsequently, the profiles attached to them) can be collected by any scammer this way – and if you'll keep an eye on posts on the internet, sometimes they hook thousands at a time.

How do you avoid this? 

Stick to a private message, and don't volunteer your email address in public.

This is a contributors’ article from Alex J Coyne