Online scams are far too common. These scammers utilize many methods to extract email addresses and phone numbers from anyone who enters their trap. This means you can be targeted at any given time and you’ll never even see it coming. That’s why it’s important that you keep yourself informed on the methods scammers use. By learning how they operate, you can develop better strategies for keeping your information as safe as possible.
How do scammers get your information?
Scammers can get your information from social media websites
Social media is a gold mine of information for scammers. Users are very willing to put personal details about themselves out to the online world. Scammers can use social media to find out more about you and what your interests are, which makes them more likely to succeed at conning you out of money. While this information may seem harmless to you, scammers can use this information against you or pretend to be you.
Scammers buy email lists from online companies
Scammers can buy email lists from online companies, which collect them for marketing purposes. When you sign up for something online, you might provide an email address as part of the process — most people don’t think about what happens with that information afterward. But there’s a good chance it’s still being used by someone else somewhere in the world.
For example, if you signed up for Facebook and gave them your email address when setting up an account, Facebook might sell that list of emails to someone else who wants to market something through Facebook ads.
Scammers can get your contact info from a data breach
Hackers who break into websites often sell their stolen data on the black market — including credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and more. These pieces of information are valuable because they allow criminals to impersonate people online by setting up new accounts in their name and buying things with their credit cards or taking out loans in their name.
Scammers use software called “scrapers”
Scammers use software called “scrapers” to extract data from websites. Scrapers are easy to find on the internet, and they can be programmed to copy any information that you put into a website.
Some scams use the information they scrape directly for identity theft or other malicious purposes. Others sell the data in bulk to companies that resell it to telemarketers and other crooks who will use it for their own scams.
Scammers can buy your info on the dark web
The dark web is a collection of websites that are hosted on servers not accessible through standard search engines and can only be accessed by using special software. These sites offer illegal goods and services, and criminals use them to buy and sell information about people in order to commit identity theft and other forms of fraud.
When a company or website experiences a data breach, the hackers may try to get additional profit from their attack by selling the information on the dark web to other hackers.
Your information is highly valuable (and vulnerable) online.
Our Information Age has given us so many conveniences, but it comes at a cost. We need to be incredibly careful about what information we reveal online and to whom. Security has never been more important; never before has our digital footprint mattered so much.