Protect yourself from Internet scams - Tips and Use Full Infomation

The Internet is an attractive place to work, play and learn for both adults and children alike. But we should also be aware of the risks we face while being online.
Internet crime seems limitless, and it may very well be. We hear daily that there are new scams and frauds appearing in e-mails or on the web from people trying to get our money. I am hopeful that the information contained in this column will explain to you and get you the resources you may need on matters pertaining to the Internet and computer crimes.


The total loss of reported Internet scam nationally for 2009 was nearly $560 million. That’s up from $264 million for all of 2008.

The following are a few examples of types of Internet scam:

  • Sales via unwanted e-mails.
  • newsgroup postings
  • chat room discussions
  • Web sites and online classified advertisements for everything from T-shirts to toys
  • calendars and collectibles.
The merchandise was not delivered, arrived in damaged condition, was defective or was misrepresented.

Don’t buy from a company online whose status is unknown. You should use care on offers through Internet auction Web sites that are unknown where the sellers never delivered the items or misrepresented their value. They also could use what are termed as "Shills" to drive up bids and sellers have been known to raise prices after the highest bids were made.

Another frequent fraudulent scheme is the Nigerian letter or something similar. The letter states that you are named in a will or there is a large amount of money that needs to be removed from a foreign country. They ask for private financial institution information under the guise of depositing money into your account. They then use this information to access your account and withdrawal money instead.

You might also receive a check unwelcome claiming that you are a sweepstakes winner and you are asked to deposit the check. Then you are asked to send a piece of that check back and after doing so, you find out that the unique check was a fraud and you are out the money that you send to them.

Please remember the following:
If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Just receiving one of these letters is not a crime in and of itself. Criminals send out thousands of these letters a day hoping someone responds. However, obtaining money fraudulently is a crime and should be reported.

The following are some tips to help you to possibly avoid being a victim of Internet scam.

  • Only do business with those you know and trust.
  • Be sure you know who the company or person is and where it is physically located. Understand the offer.
  • Look cautiously at the information about the products or services offered, and ask for additional information, if needed. A lawful business will be glad to provide it; a fake telemarketer won’t.
  • Be sure you know what is being sold, the total price, the delivery date, the return and cancellation policy, and the terms of any assurance.
  • Check out the company’s or individual’s track record. Call to check for complaint records with consumer agencies and the Better Business Bureau. Keep in mind that con artists can appear and disappear quickly, particularly in cyberspace, so the lack of a complaint record is no guarantee of legitimacy.
  • Don’t give your bank account numbers, credit card numbers or other personal information to anyone you don’t know or haven’t checked out. And don’t provide information that isn’t essential to make a purchase. Take your time. While there may be time limits for special offers, high-pressure sales tactics are often danger signs of fraud.
  • Never judge consistency by how nice or flashy a web site may seem. Anyone can create, register, and promote a web site; it’s comparatively easy and cheap. And just like any other forms of advertising, you can’t assume that someone has screened and approved it.
  • Know that people in cyberspace may not always be what they seem. Someone who is sharing a friendly tip about a moneymaking scheme or great bargain in a chat room or on a bulletin board may have an secret motive: to make money. Remember sometimes friendly people are crooks.
  • Finally, don’t click on an attachment from someone you don’t know or was unwanted. Harmful viruses can be triggered by clicking on an attachment without your knowledge that could wipe out your computer files or even hijack your Internet service, reconnecting you through an international phone number, resulting in enormous phone charges.
If you are a victim of Internet fraud, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov, or with the National Fraud Information Center at www.fraud.org/info/contactnfic.htm
You can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org, and you can always file a report with your local law enforcement agency.

1 Response to "Protect yourself from Internet scams - Tips and Use Full Infomation"

  1. ulfwolf says:
    July 23, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Great post.

    Perhaps I can just add to this that the best way to guard against being ripped off by online sales or auctions of any kind, Craigslist and eBay included—and whether seller or buyer—is to use a *bona fide* online escrow company. Especially for pricier items like antiques, jewelry and autos. Although it does add some cost, it takes the uncertainty out of the transaction, and that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

    For my money, the best bona fide online escrow (and there seems to be ten fraudulent escrow sites for every bona fide one) is probably Escrow.com (http://escrow.com). In fact, it’s the only one that eBay recommends, and is the only online escrow company that is licensed to provide escrow services all across the United States.

    Take care,

    Ulf Wolf

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