Internet scams take all kinds of shapes. A few years ago, a popular email scam circulated called the “Nigerian Prince” scam. This fraudulent email scammed thousands of people out of lots of funds, and even caused death in two cases.
Unfortunately, the deceit that goes along with these scams is far from fading. While you can’t stop scammers from trying to take your dollars or, worse, hold you hostage, you can do everything in your power to spot an Internet scam.
When to Stay Away
The first tip is also true in the real world: never believe guarantees. It’s impossible to guarantee most things in life. When it comes to something that you see on the Internet or on an auction site, a guarantee that someone is offering is most likely a scam.
The second tip comes with a bit of common sense: don’t fall for a money order con. If someone wants to pay for your services or products, make sure that money is wired to you in advance. Services like PayPal are excellent for conducting Internet transactions. All too often, service providers are conned out of money when a “client” shows a contractor a copy of a check or money order. Make sure you have the cash before you send or product anything.
Third: you should never have to pay for an item in advance. This one is a bit tricky. Some contractors will ask for half of a payment in advance, and this is generally okay if the person asking has a solid reputation and references. However, if you want to purchase something that’s being sold online, do not send half of a payment before receiving a product. This tip might seem obvious, but people send advance payments all the time, and those people never see that money (or a product!) ever again.
Lastly, make sure the site you are buying from is legit. Do your research by searching for reviews of a product or service. Call references, ask lots of questions, and only buy from reputable retailers. You may think you are immune to scams, but even the best and brightest fall for scams sometimes.
How to Get Out of a Scam
If you’ve paid money in advance or have been scammed in some other way, make sure to report the person who took advantage of you. Call local authorities or try to file a suit against someone. But, no matter how mad you are, do not travel to a person’s location in order to collect funds. Sometimes, the people on the other end of the Internet are dangerous.
Amazingly, millions of people fall for all kinds of scams regularly. If something looks suspicious, it usually is. If someone seems suspicious, they usually are. The Internet provides a great place to shop and purchase services, just be careful out there! Things aren’t always what they seem to be, and this is especially true when it comes to the Internet. Remember, never give any money in advance, and always ask for references. These are two excellent ways to avoid becoming an Internet fraud victim!