Photo © Jacob Wackerhausen

Overall, people are getting smarter about avoiding scams -- but crooks always seem to be a step ahead. Here,'s list of top scams we should watch out for.

1. Phishing and identity theft. One-off attempts to grab your cash are bad enough, but these scams take something more valuable: your information. Think of the damage a crook can do with your banking information gained through a phishing attack, and the havoc they could cause with your email passwords. Even collecting email addresses through fake surveys and sign-ups is big business: that's how crooks can disseminate their scams. With new cons always in the works, we'll need to pay even more attention to what information we reveal in the months ahead.

2. Malware.  It could be on your computer right now: a malicious piece of software logging every key stroke you make, spying on your activities or creating fake pop-ups like virus alerts. Malware won't just infect your computer this year: experts predict that malicious apps and malicious ads on mobile devices could be one of the top online security threats in 2013.

3. Internet sales. Be careful where you spend! Scams involving online auctions, online classified ads and questionable online retailers continued to be a top complaint in 2012, according to Scambusters. Variations of these scams can hit both buyers and sellers, but both types will leave you with no merchandise and no cash.

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Elizabeth Rogers