Internet ScamBusters’ Predictions for the 10 Biggest Internet Scam Trends in 2006

Scam Trends to Watch Out for to Stay Safe in 2006: Internet ScamBusters #161

Today we again gaze into our scambusting “crystal ball” and predict the biggest Internet scam trends you need to watch out for so you can use the Internet more safely in 2006.

We also have some links and comments about these scam trends we think you’ll find interesting.

Onto this year’s scam predictions…

Internet ScamBusters’ Predictions for the 10 Biggest Internet Scam Trends to Watch Out for to Stay Safe in 2006

As you know, 2005 was a very big year for Internet scams, and just about everyone agrees that 2006 will be even bigger. You can see our list of the worst scams of 2005 here.

We believe it’s very important to understand these growing scam trends — so you can better protect yourself. As you’ve heard us say many times, being smart is NOT enough to protect yourself from Internet scams. It’s often important to know about these threats in advance — and that’s why we publish ScamBusters as a public service.

Here are our predictions for the 10 top Internet scam trends and online threats for 2006…

Internet ScamBusters’ Top 10 Scams for 2006:

10. More personal and targeted attacks. This made last year’s prediction list but was not included on the actual list of worst scams. However, last year we saw the beginnings of “spear-phishing,” which is a personalized and more severe form of phishing (see #2 below). Spear-phishing uses more personalized “bait” and is aimed at specific victims. We expect to see much more of this in 2006.

9. New, more creative variants of the overpayment scam. Many variants of the overpayment scam emerged in 2005, with more expected in 2006. You can read about the overpayment scam here.

8. A new category of scams. Just like phishing emerged as a new and very important category of scams a couple of years ago, we predict that a similar new category of scams will emerge in 2006. We don’t know what it is yet, but we predict there will be one. We believe scammers are unfortunately too clever to go for two years in a row without a new category of scams.

7. Advanced fees paid for guaranteed loans or credit cards. People who have less-than-perfect credit unfortunately fall for these scams in very large numbers. You can read more about these advance fee credit card scams here.

6. New variants of the Nigerian scam. As subscribers know, many of these scams no longer originate in Nigeria. We predict that many new — and even more creative — variants will surface in 2006. (We also call these scams, as well as lottery scams (#5), the “help me get wealthy scams.”)

5. More lottery scams. Lottery scams grew dramatically in 2005, and they will grow even more in 2006. We also predict that we’ll be asked (many, many times each week) if some lottery scam is real. 😉

For more on lottery scams (regardless of the country), click here.

4. New spyware threats. Spyware, adware, malware, etc. continue to be one of the biggest Internet security threats. We predict that more clever and difficult-to-find-and-remove spyware will be created in 2006. Visit our Internet ScamBusters Anti Spyware Resource Center for more info.

3. Even more dangerous viruses, worms, and trojans. There were many serious viruses in 2005, and we see no end to this growing trend. In fact, keystroke loggers are on the rise, so we expect this problem to grow more in 2006.

You can find more on keystroke loggers at item #2 here.

And you’ll find more on viruses here.

2. Even more sophisticated phishing scams. Phishing scams got much more complex and clever in 2005, and we expect this trend to grow in 2006. Although good data are hard to get, one study last June by Gartner Inc. showed that about 2.4 million people in the US reported losing $929 million through phishing scams during the previous year.

For more on phishing, click here.

1. More identity theft problems. Identity theft topped our list last year and we predict this trend to continue to grow. For more on identity theft, visit now.

You’ll notice that we’ve removed disaster scams and new job posting threats from the Top 10 list. The scope of disaster scams depends on what disasters occur — and we’ve decided to be optimistic about 2006 (plus, these scams are covered in the other categories anyway).

We predict that new job posting scams will continue to grow, but that other scams will be a bigger problem.

Now that we’ve warned you of all of these growing scam trends, we’d like to remind and reassure you that if you don’t ever respond to spam, the vast majority of your online experiences will be safe. Our mission is to help you understand the scam trends so you can best protect yourself and stay safe.

Time to close. We’ll see you next week.