Consumers are vulnerable to frauds, scams, and identity theft every day when they shop online or browse social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These criminals may try to steal your personal information, your money, or both, and it’s important to be aware of the risks so you can protect yourself and your family from becoming victims.
To help you stay safe on the Internet, here are 10 ways to protect yourself from fraudsters online.
1) Meet in person
Meeting in person with someone you’re conducting business with may be the best way to protect yourself from fraud.
For one, there’s nothing to hide when you’re face-to-face with the person. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for rapport building. For example, if you can take five minutes chatting about your favorite TV show before a business transaction takes place it may be easier for them to establish trust and build that connection with you.
2) Use search engines
A good rule of thumb is to check a website’s address (URL) by typing it into your search engine. This will usually show up as an advertisement on top of the page when it pops up.
Most scams use a URL that is hard to read or that looks like it belongs somewhere else, so be on the lookout for those red flags.
Another good way to avoid being scammed online is by only clicking through links if you have initiated them yourself in the first place.
3) Know your risks
Whether it is a grandparent, friend, or complete stranger that you have no personal history with, there are certain risks associated with sending money. In order to make the risk more manageable for yourself and ensure your information will not be taken advantage of by fraudsters online, here are is an example of step to take: Never send money without verifying the identity of the seller. If a seller cannot provide their photo ID and be verified by PayPal, then do not buy from them.
4) Think before you act
One of the best ways to protect yourself is simply by having common sense. Don’t be persuaded by positive reviews.
Reviewers can be compensated for their opinions, and it’s hard for an inexperienced person to tell the difference between a sponsored review and an unbiased one.
Be careful about giving out your personal information on social media, where you are easily targeted. If someone who claims they work with a company messages you through Facebook or LinkedIn, look up their profile online before sharing any information with them.
5) Check contact information
Contact information is an essential part of any business and should be made available. Verify contact information before sending money or your personal information to someone you do not know.
If you have any questions about the company, call their phone number and ask for more information. It never hurts to take a moment to make sure everything is on the up-and-up!
6) Monitor your credit card statements
Monitoring your credit card statements every month is one of the easiest ways to detect fraud.
Pay attention to what’s coming in and what’s going out, and if something seems off or uncharacteristic, contact your bank and cancel the card. Keep an eye on foreign purchases or transactions, too!
7) Watch out for scams
The problem is that all it takes is a little bit of ingenuity, and the crooks can come up with all sorts of ways to take your money. From straight-up fake Nigerian money scams, to selling you limited edition sneakers that aren’t, there are many different types of scams out there waiting for an unsuspecting victim, and make sure you are very aware of what’s being sold.
8) Do research on companies
You might think that you can avoid being scammed by just keeping yourself safe online, but the reality is that cybercrime has many different routes for taking your money.
-Search for offers with suspected fraud or scam in the comments section.
-Pay with a credit card and file a dispute if something goes wrong.
-Keep records of anything you buy online and always report suspicious activity.
9) Beware of fake websites
The most common way for people to get scammed online is through a fake website that promises amazing deals. There are a few warning signs of fake websites you can look out for: 1) Beware of sites that have misspellings or unusual URLs and links.
2) Pay attention to grammar and punctuation, and make sure the website looks like it’s been set up by an expert designer.
10) Be patient and take time.
If you’re like most people, you’re incredibly busy these days and it can be hard to take time for anything extra. One of the simplest ways you can protect yourself is by practicing patience.
Fraudsters are counting on the fact that people want an item as soon as possible, so they may try to rush buyers through a transaction before asking all the necessary questions.
Additionally, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. It’s easy to get caught up in what looks like a great deal, but don’t forget to think about what could go wrong or how that deal might not be such a great deal after all.
Lastly, when buying something online or even over the phone, make sure you have payment options other than just wire transfer.
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