Digital Citizenship

Your Money

Frauds and Hoaxes

According to the United States Department of Justice, The term "Internet fraud" refers generally to any type of fraud scheme that uses one or more components of the Internet - such as chat rooms, e-mail, message boards, or Web sites - to present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims, to conduct fraudulent transactions, or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to other connected with the scheme.

If you use the Internet with any frequency, you'll soon see that people and things online tend to move, as the saying goes, on "Internet time." For most people, that phrase simply means that things seem to happen more quickly on the Internet -- business decisions, information-searching, personal interactions, to name a few - and to happen before, during, or after ordinary "bricks-and-mortar" business hours.

Types of Internet Fraud?

In general, fraud tends to be the same whether it is happening in the “real” world or the digital world. The main types of Internet fraud are:

  • Online Auction and Retail Schemes: These schemes induce their victims to send money for the promised items, but then deliver nothing or only an item far less valuable than what was promised.
  • Online Business Opportunity/"Work-at-Home" Schemes: These schemes typically require the individuals to pay money to make money at home, but fail to deliver the materials or information that would be needed.
  • Identity Theft
  • Online Investment Schemes
  • Credit-Card Schemes. Criminals illegally obtain credit card numbers

How to Avoid Internet Fraud

  • Don't Judge by Initial Appearances. Just because something appears on the Internet doesn't mean it's true. 
  • Be Careful About Giving Out Valuable Personal Data Online. Most reputable businesses will not ask for personally identifiable information (like usernames and passwords) through email. When in doubt, don’t give it out!
  • Don’t interact with individuals online who conceal their identity 
  • Don’t send money to a PO Box prior to receiving goods.


A computer virus hoax is a false email message warning the recipient of a virus that is going around. The message usually serves as a chain e-mail that tells the recipient to forward it to everyone they know.

Most hoaxes say the virus will do nearly impossible things, like blow up the recipient's computer. They often claim to be from reputable organizations such as Microsoft and IBM, and encourage the receiver to forward the message.

Virus hoaxes are usually harmless, and do nothing more than annoy people who know it's a hoax or waste the time of people who forward the message. Recipients should delete virus hoaxes instead of forwarding them, always remain vigilant and never open a suspicious attachment

Bank Account Safety

According to McAfee, if your online banking and shopping password is your nickname, birthday, anniversary, or pet name, chances are somebody else knows it too. Researchers warn that online banking customers leave themselves open to fraud by using predictable passwords. More than 75 percent of 1,005 people surveyed used words that could be easily guessed. 

Only you can protect your online identity. Establishing strong and secure passwords is one of the most effective deterents for hackers.

  • Create passwords that are unique and that include letters, numbers, symbols and random capitalizations.
  • Never give this information out to other users
  • Don’t use public kiosks to do your online banking
  • When purchasing online goods, make sure the transaction is being handled by a secure server that encrypts the data being sent online making it difficult for hackers to steal. Secure servers that encrypt data start with https instead of http. Often when you are browsing before the actual purchase transaction you will be using a regular server and then when you go to make the purchase be sent to a secure server.
  • Don’t store passwords on your computer