Check out some of these resources and tips from us on how to avoid internet scams and safely buy things over the web. These will help you reduce and minimize the risk that you’ll have and potentially be exposed to directly when browsing the web and shopping online.
General Rules of Thumb:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You’ve heard that before, surely, but it’s especially true on the internet. Avoid any kind of “get rich quick” scheme. Be wary of any ads that offer the opportunity to make you money if you send the advertiser money or especially, focus on offering you an easy “work from home job” with a very lucrative salary. (There are real jobs where you can work from home online – click here to learn more info about the legit opportunities.)
- Don’t send money to someone you don’t know.
Sounds obvious, but people find themselves in this position more often than they realize or may think. If you buy anything on eBay, you’ll never know the person, but you can look at their feedback score and seller history to make sure they are reputable and other people have had good experiences.
- Ignore emails sent from unknown senders that ask for your financial or personal information.
Scammers are getting better at disguising themselves as banks, credit card companies, collections agencies. This common scam is known as “phishing” and is often done through email spam – that sometimes your spam filter may not catch – and through fake web pages designed to look like log in pages to your bank or popular payment sites like Google Wallet and PayPal.
Online Resources and Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Money Online
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to: Internet Privacy and Security – Free, online copy of a book that outlines many ways to keep yourself safe when you’re using the web. It’s written for non-techies, so you don’t need to know a lot about computers to learn from this.
- 15 Get Rich Quick Schemes to Stay Away from on the Internet – A list of popular and common scams found on the web that are masked as ‘get rich quick’ schemes. Unless you win the lottery, you can’t get rich quick.
- 10 Ways to Avoid Online Scams – A short guide by US News & World Report that tells you different ways you can avoid online scams.
- 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud – This short list of techniques written by the Federal Trade Commission explains how you can avoid fraud both online and offline.
How to Report Online Scams
If you’ve been a victim of an online scam or you find one that almost got you, do yourself and everyone a favor by spending a few minutes to report it to the proper authorities.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission if you are in the US and the scammers are in the US, too. For scams that are happening outside of the country, you can submit a complaint to econsumer.gov, which is a database of known internet scams used by thousands of law enforcement agencies around the world.
- Contact your State’s Attorney General office – each state has a consumer protection division that is run by the attorney general and is there to help you if you become the victim of an internet scam.