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What is a Scam?

Last Updated : 19 Oct, 2021
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Today, almost every person and industry, like in commerce, government, education, entertainment, etc., uses the internet for different purposes. As we know that internet is the source through which we can get and share information or content with a large number of people in the world. The Internet can be beneficial, but it can also be harmful because there are so many people on the internet who are available with bad intention. Their main motive is to harm other people or to get money/personal information from people. So, in this article, we will discuss what is online scams, and how to protect yourself from these scams. 

What is a Scam?

Any fraudulent technique or activity that is done to gain money or some other valued thing from a person is referred to as a scam. Large amounts of unsolicited messages delivered by email, instant messaging, or other digital communication methods to a person with the wrong intention are referred to as spam. Advertisers prefer it since it has no running costs other than the cost of maintaining email lists.

A person who does a scam is known as a scammer. Scammers usually make unwanted phone calls or give deceptive pop-up ads so that they can distract unwary computer users, such as their machines have a critical problem that has to be treated right away. Scammers frequently impersonate officials of well-known computer and software firms. Once a person is on the phone with a fraudster or clicks the advertisement link, the scammer frequently requests remote access to the victim’s computer. The scammer then can steal passwords, install malware or try to sell superfluous services or products. Some scanners can be caught easily while some cannot be if they are too clever.

The goal of the scammers is to persuade you to:

  • Get your personal information
  • Accept attractive deals without seeking advice
  • Send money on the basis of a fake promise
  • Buy something with no inspection

Types of Scams

Different types of scams are available on the internet and some of the common scams are:

  • Lottery or Contest scams: You can receive an email or message from a lottery or gaming firm from another country that actually does not exists. Although in reality, you did not enter any contest/ lottery program, yet it claims that you won a large sum of money through the contest. Scammers ask you to pay some upfront money (for tax etc.) or share personal information, OTP, etc. mandatory in order to get the reward.
  • Phishing: It is a type of scam that is commonly used to obtain sensitive data from users, such as login credentials and credit card information. By distributing spam, malicious Web sites, email messages, and instant chats, they fool consumers into providing essential information such as bank and credit card information, or access to personal accounts.
  • E-commerce, classified ads, and auctions Scams:  When a fraudster sells a good, he or she will either provide a damaged or low-quality item or nothing at all. They may also pose as a salesperson in order to obtain your credit card or bank account information. Scams like this can be found on legitimate internet classified pages as well. For example, claim to be selling tickets to upcoming live shows that aren’t official and won’t work. An online auction scam comprises a fraudster saying that you have a second chance to buy the item that you bid on because the winner withdrew from the auction. The fraudster will request money outside of the auction site’s secure payment system. Ultimately, you will lose your money forever.
  • Online Banking Scams: The victim of the scam usually gets emails, messages that appear to come via some banks or online payment service but actually it is sent by scammers. The email or message says that there is an issue with your account and asks you to confirm your information on a fake-created bank website. Also, card skimming can be done (The copying of information from the magnetic stripe of a credit card or an ATM).
  • Small Firms Scams: Scammers can target you by sending fake bills, illegal advertisements, services, etc. if you run a small business. Scammers try to give you offers like a free admittance, unpaid invoice but they actually hide the subscription agreement in it.
  • Employment Scams: The scammers usually give an offer to work from home by initially giving token money or an opportunity to invest in a business. They promise to give a high salary or high-profit return after the payment is done. These payments could be for, software, taxes, or fees, a training session, etc. This type of scam is promoted via advertisements.
  • Donation & Healthcare Scams: Scammers are dishonest persons who prey on those who want to donate to a good cause or discover a solution to a health condition. Scammers collect money by posing as employees of a legitimate cause or charity, or a bogus one that they have formed. Scammers frequently take advantage of the disaster or crisis in the headlines that took place in the latest. They may also try to manipulate your emotions.

How to protect yourself against internet scams?

To protect yourself from Internet scams, always keep the following points in your mind:

  • Always keep your system updated with anti-virus, anti-malware, etc.
  • For repair purposes or to make your system virus-free, always visit the respected local companies.
  • Cut the call immediately and block the number if anyone calls you to provide free technical support or says that you have an infected computer or hacked account.
  • Do not ever share your bank details or personal information or OTP on phone calls or unauthorized websites.
  • Alert yourself if anyone asks for the payments in an unusual way, such as cheques, gift cards, etc.

Internet Manners/ Rules To be followed

The following rules must follow while using the internet:

  • Always be respectful:
    • Respect diversity: In terms of education, experience, culture, and other factors, respect the diversity of people.
    • Respect privacy: Images, papers, files, and other personal information shared with a digital citizen may be private to both of you. We must preserve this privacy and not disclose those photographs, papers, data, and other items with any other digital citizen without their permission.
  • Always be Ethical: 
    • No copyright infringement: Do not utilize copyrighted content without the permission of the creator’s or owner’s consent. As responsible digital citizens, we must exercise caution when streaming audio or video or downloading photographs or files from the Internet.
    • Share your knowledge: The information and knowledge can be shared on the Internet so that others can benefit from it. But, the information supplied should be accurate and unambiguous. Also, ensure that the information isn’t already available on the internet to avoid duplication of data.
  • Always be Responsible:
    • Cyber Bullying: It is a type of bullying or harassment that happens on digital devices like cell phones, laptops, and tablets. Cyberbullying can take place offline in any social media, forums, or gaming where people can watch, participate in, or share content, or online in social media platforms, etc. where people can participate in, see in or share content. It means repeatedly pursuing someone with the purpose to harm or shame them. We must recognize that online bullying because it can have major consequences for the other person (victim). Also, keep in mind that our digital actions can be backtracked.
    • No reply to trolls: Internet trolls are those who use the internet to irritate and provoke others for their own entertainment. Because trolls try to gain attention, the way to keep them away is to just ignore them.

Sample Questions

Question 1. Write a note on the Indian Information Technology Act (IT Act).


Many examples of cyber crimes, scams, cyber attacks, and cyber bullying have been documented as the Internet has grown in popularity. The type of fraudulent actions and crimes is always evolving. To combat such threats, many governments have enacted legislation to secure sensitive personal data and defend Internet users’ rights. 
The Information Technology Act, 2000 (commonly known as the IT Act) of the Government of India, as revised in 2008, gives users instructions on how to process, store, and transmit sensitive data. Many Indian states have cyber cells in police stations where anyone can report any type of cyber crime. By recognizing electronic records and digital signatures, the legislation establishes a legal framework for electronic government. The act defines cyber crime and the penalties associated with it. 

Question 2. What is cyber safety?


Cybersecurity can be defined as a set of procedures aimed at promoting safe internet use and preventing exposure to internet infection, fraud, and theft. 

Question 3. Write a short note on the Importance of Cyber laws and the Information Technology (Amendment ) Act 2008.


Cyberlaw is significant because it encompasses nearly all elements of transactions and activities on and with the Internet, the World Wide Web, and Cyberspace. In Cyberspace, every action and reply has certain legal and cyber legal implications. 

The Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008, or IITA, not only addresses more charges related to information security, cyber terrorism, data protection, and privacy, but it also increases the penalties for particular offenses to life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakhs.

Question 4. What are computer ethics and good practices to follow while using the internet?


Computer ethics is concerned with the rules, norms, and practices that govern the process of consuming computing technology and associated disciplines without endangering or violating any individual’s, organization’s, or entity’s moral ideals and beliefs. 
Computer ethics is an ethical notion that deals with the ethical issues and restrictions that come from the use of computers, as well as how to reduce or prevent them. 

The good practices that must be followed are :

  • Use the computer in a way that does not endanger others.
  • Do not use another person’s computer unless they have given you permission.
  • Do not steal information using computer technology.
  • Do not use digital technology in order to spread of wrong information.
  • Don’t snoop on someone else’s computer data.
  • Avoid copying software or purchasing pirated copies.
  • Unless the software is free, you should pay for it.
  • Consider the societal impact of any of  software before going for its implementation.
  • It is incorrect to claim ownership of a product that is the result of other’s mind.
  • Do not use computer technology to disrupt the work of other users.

Question 5. What is Internet Fraud?


The term “internet fraud” refers to a sort of deception that takes place on the internet. This type of fraud comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It includes everything from spam e-mails to internet fraud. Internet fraud can occur whether it is partially based on the use of internet services or is entirely dependent on the use of the internet. 

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