Earlier this week I told you all about how I became a victim of email fraud. I almost paid $95 to obtain software that would allow me to work from home and essentially double my income. I trusted my mother and her source, and then I trusted the MSNBC website, but they all turned out to be bogus. Except for my mother, she’s not bogus.
After a little research from the Better Business Bureau’s website and the popular urban legend/misinformation internet resource site Snopes, I found that this company collects the fee from hundreds and thousands of people and then goes out of business, only to start again with a new name. The math is quite remarkable – get 2,000 people to hand over $95, now they’ve just made $190,000. The internet is a glorious world of information, but you must be careful with the information you choose to put out there. I didn’t think an email address and a zip code were exceptionally personal bits of information; after all both can be found on most business cards. It was the act of clicking on links within an email from an unknown source that got me in trouble.
Tips to Avoid Email/Internet Fraud:
- Purchase merchandise from a reputable source, dealer or establishment.
- Do a little digging on a company to ensure they are a legitimate business. Call their listed number to ensure it is working, send an email to ensure it is active and ask for a physical address instead of settling for a PO Box.
- Be cautious regarding unsolicited email, especially if it involves an investment offer.
- Be extra cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
- Ask about returns and warranties, as most reputable businesses have such policies.
- Purchase items online using a credit card instead of a debit or checking account; these types of purchases are more easily disputed if there is an error or fraud attempt.
- Ensure that the seller uses a secure site for payment method – one that it is encrypted.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as foreign government officials needing your help to deposit large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
- Promises of large sums of money for your cooperation are typically scams.
- Beware of imposters – someone pretending to be with a charity or business when they actually are not. Keep an eye out for websites designed to look like the real website of a specific company or charity.
- If someone calls from a company you have an account with, you should not have to provide your social security number or any other information they might already have on file. Verification of your identity may be required such as the last four digits of your social, your address or secret questions determined in advance.
- Never give out your credit card number unless you are purchasing something.
- Be cautious of downloads. Downloading programs to see pictures or play games could contain a virus that harms your computer or puts your personal information at risk. Only download from websites you know and trust.
- Be cautious of links in emails from unknown sources. They can contain viruses and spyware harmful to your computer and could place your personal information at risk.
- Sometimes it is better to delete unsolicited email from unknown sources rather than asking to be removed from their email list, because sending a response proves your email is active leading to additional unsolicited emails from other sources.
To check for current internet scams and fraudulent businesses, visit:
www.fraud.org home.mcafee.com/virusinfo www.bbb.org
www.hoax-slayer.com www.dhs.gov – search for ‘email hoax’ www.snopes.com
Information taken from: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety