Life in the Digital Briar Patch – How to spot an Internet Scam
The tragedy of the internet is that it is available to anyone. On the plus side, being available to everyone is that information is now available to anyone that wants it. This observation can be best described by this economic concept the “Tragedy of the Commons”.
“The tragedy of the commons is an economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the greatest benefit from a given resource. As the demand for the resource overwhelms the supply, every individual who consumes an additional unit directly harms others who can no longer enjoy the benefits.”
The best examples of this is overfishing, global warming, traffic congestion and the plastic bottle island the size of Texas in the South Pacific. The internet is overrun with bad actors looking to make a score for some unsuspecting victim through a click on a email that delivers malware to infect your computer systems or a phishing exercise to get your contact info for identity theft and email scams. This unfettered access by bad actors to the internet is the “Tragedy of the Commons” and is a digital plague that needs to be exterminated,
Check out this scam that comes into yur email inbox. Hey! I just won $1.5 Million from Google and Microsoft. I bet Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are not too happy with being mentioned in this obvious scam. The best way to see if it is a scam is to ask yourself “ Is this too good to be true”, then check the sender email address, reply address and location for authenticity. This one appears to be from the UK but has Spanish writing in it are obvious clues of a scam. The use of the Google logo in the masthead gives an aura of authenticity for a glancing moment to get you to read it.
Other ways you can get scammed is with FREE offers on the internet when you are searching, but in order to get the free info you must register and give your credit card info. I call this a watering hole scam. I saw this when I was searching for a service manual for a outboard motor for the used boat I just bought. I hope eventually these types of scams are eventually filtered out by the search engines. I still remember the time I bought something online from a site that I did not know that was offering a great deal. I later discovered that this was the source of the theft of my credit card. So please shop only on sites that you trust.
But this heighten sense of security has caused a snowball effect of other problems for legitimate publishers. If your domain (website address) gets a bad reputation on the internet from the email spam filters, emails service providers will block you or shut you down. This may be of no fault of your own as a hacker can secretly now spoof your domain name and use it for “ Black Hat” (Criminal hacker) activities to fool the spam filters thinking it is legitimate, just like the scam I showed you above. Make sure you test all your email marketing programs with a spam checker to see if it is classified as spam on various spam software platforms to gauge your reputation on the internet.
Government intervention to this digital plague has been legislation like Canada’s Anti-Spam Laws and the European Union’s digital privacy law that went into effect May 25, 2018. Unfortunately, this is a global problem as the bad actors always find a way to side step the rules as they operate in jurisdictions outside the reach of the law. So tough laws are toothless for these crooks, but legitimate players pay the price with more rules that tend to overreact and create more red tape. But on the plus side, ad tech companies enthusiasm for marketing surveillance for personalized marketing and ad delivery without a person’s consent will stop.
Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) on the internet is a required skill for everyone and the best way to fight back is to expose people to their scams so we can recognize one. This is the new normal on the internet and it is not going to change anytime soon.