Beware of IP Address Scams When Shopping Online
Experts say that one in ten adults in the United States is the victim of an online scam or fraud every year. And the scams are expected to increase in frequency as more people use devices during the pandemic, especially when the busy holiday season arrives. It is critical to know how to stay safe online.
To counter consumers who use more robust cybersecurity tools, scammers rely on increasingly sophisticated scams to fool anyone. One alarming new scam used to steal from people is the IP address scam.
What Is an IP Address?
When you connect to the Net, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) assigns a unique numerical label to your device called the IP (Internet Protocol) address. You have the same IP address at home whether you use a PC, Mac, laptop, tablet, or smartphone to use the Internet. Usually, your IP address remains unchanged unless you pay your ISP a special fee.
Your IP address is linked to all your activity on the Internet and can be used to trace you. In the broadest terms, your IP address is your digital signature. You can check your IP address by asking your ISP or through a website.
What Is an IP Address Scam?
The IP address scam relies on trickery and scare tactics. While on your computer, you will see an alarming message through a pop-up ad, email, or social media note that claims that your IP address was used for illegal or immoral activity.
Like any good phishing expedition, the alert will appear to be from a legitimate ISP, cybersecurity company, or tech support company. When you cross-check your IP address with the one on the alert, you’ll notice that they are the same. Shocked, you may call the number on the alert to grant a “technician” remote access to your computer.
The fraudster will usually remove the malware responsible for the alert but quietly replace it with more dangerous malware such as spyware, a keylogger, or stalkerware. Hackers use sophisticated malware to access your confidential information in order to commit identity theft, blackmail, or financial fraud.
How Do I Protect Myself from IP Address Scams?
Your first step is to subscribe to a reputable Virtual Private Network (VPN) to stop scammers from snooping on your IP address. Check a cybersecurity website to answer queries like — why do people use VPNs to mask their IP address or secure their networks?
Remember to stay away from free VPN services as they carry malware. Free VPN service providers also snoop on you and sell your data to third parties to make money.
You should also educate yourself about phishing scams to recognize fraudulent emails, websites, and ads. Remember, if it looks like an IP address scam, it probably is. Ignore pop-up ads and never give strangers access to your confidential data. Use the best tools to crush adware and other Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs).
Never panic. If you have doubts, verify a potentially fraudulent message yourself. For example, call your ISP or chat with them through their website if you receive a suspicious alert from them. With the right VPN service and some caution, you can stay safe from most IP address scams.
How To Report a Scammer
Warn your family and online friends about the IP Address Scams by sharing it on social media. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
How To Prevent Identity Theft and More
If you want to be the first to find out the most prevalent scams every week, subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter. You’ll receive periodic messages – we promise not to email spam you. Also, educate yourself with some other IP fraud-related articles below this paragraph, so that you can protect yourself in many other niches. Feel free to use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.
Here are some must-reads for the end:
IP Address Survey Scam
VPN Scams – What They Don’t Want You To Know
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