How to Avoid Scammers and Other Fraudsters on the Internet

The internet is the modern day market. Sites such as eBay or Craigslist are popular because they offer great bargains, and perhaps a neat profit to those who know how the online market works. The marketplace, whether located in the real world, or existing online, will always be filled with people with not-so-good intentions on the lookout for their next victim.

For the online fraudster, his primary tool is the email and his approach is to mimic official communications from sites such as eBay or Craigslist. An official looking email from eBay purportedly asks you to update your records and provides you with a link to do the same. As you log-in into the false site, you are providing your user name and password to individuals who will use this information to steal your identity. Such acts are called “phishing” and are as old as the World Wide Web.

Some emails from scammers are quite obvious to spot – from the bad grammar to the very generic salutation such as “Dear Member” or “Dear eBay User”. Also the email of the sender does not spell out cleanly – and is usually a strange mixture of numbers and letters. Some of these emails are tragically funny, beseeching your kind spirit because a rich relative has just died and he needs your financial help to settle estate of his uncle. Of course, the scam works by saying that he will repay the loan a hundred times the original amount. Funnier still, you get this email from a friend of yours who is stuck in Africa and has to beg for money to buy a ticket home. Such scammers are able to secure your email because at one time or another some hacker has broken into someone’s email address and found your address in the contact book.

A scam email may inform you that someone is interested in paying a higher price for an item you got from eBay. If it is true that you did get something from eBay, check out if the email references the item number of your purchase. Most scam mails won’t have this number or will get it wrong. Scammers who send out this type of email will claim that payment is already in PayPal and requests you to send the item to a relative who is living in the US. They will also claim that processing will take a while which is obviously a lie. If you are not careful, you might lose money and the item in question.

Remember not to click on links on suspicious looking email – they could be the trigger that will make your computer download Trojans and other malware.

Another scam is buying items online using credit cards and demanding a chargeback after receiving the item. If ever you get this demand, always check the address where you’re sending the refund and always use a check instead of real cash.

The internet is full of articles that teach you how to protect yourself. The prudent reader will make himself acquainted with some of the articles in order to prevent financial losses as well as identity theft.

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