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Avoiding Internet Fraud

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Criminals have started to recognize the vast potential to commit fraud crimes on the Internet.

Here are some tips for avoiding Internet fraud:
  • Do business with those you know and trust. Be sure you know the business or person that you are doing business with and where they are physically located. Businesses operating on the Internet may be in another part of the country or the world. The business may not even exist.
  • Understand the offer. Look carefully at the information about the products or services being offered and ask for more information if you need it. A legitimate business will be glad to offer more information on products and services; a fraudulent telemarketer will not. Be sure you know what is being sold, the total price, the delivery date, the return or cancellation policy, and the terms of any guarantee. Print all information for documentation.
  • Check out the company or individual's track record. Check for complaints through the Better Business Bureau.
  • Never give your bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or other personal information to anyone you don't know or haven't checked out. Don't provide unnecessary information to make a purchase.
  • Take your time. While there may be time limits for specific offers, high-pressure sales tactics are often signs of fraud.
  • Don't judge reliability by how nice or flashy the website may seem. Anyone can create, register, and promote a website; it is relatively easy and inexpensive. Always remember that websites are forms of advertisement and you cannot assume that someone has screened and approved it.
  • Know that people on the Internet may not always be what they seem. Someone that is sharing tips about a moneymaking scheme or a great bargain on a chat room or bulletin board may have an ulterior motive: to make money, your money. Sometimes people who appear to be friendly are crooks.
  • Know that con artists often use unsolicited e-mails. Be sure to report all unsolicited e-mails or "spamming" to your Internet provider.
  • Don't download any programs from websites that you are not familiar. You could accidentally download a virus that wipes out your computer files and hijacks your Internet service.