Protect Yourself From Internet Scams | HomeFirst

Protect Yourself From Internet Scams

One of the great things about the Internet is that it can make it handling everyday things like banking and shopping so convenient. Although technology is supposed to make our lives easier, it can become a nightmare if you end up being the victim of a scam artist. As technology has grown, so have the ways scammers can use to try to get your money. But there are ways to stay a few steps ahead of the scam artists.

Don’t Wire Money

Be wary of anyone who wants you to wire them money. Scam artists love to insist that you send them money by wiring it to them because it’s virtually impossible to trace the money or reverse the charges if you realize you’ve been ripped off. Credit cards give you the power to dispute charges if you have reason to believe you’ve been scammed.

Only Pay Through Secured Websites

When you’re go to buy something online, make sure you’re paying through a secured website. Secured websites have protection to keep others from seeing your information. To make sure a site is secure, look at the bar of your web browser where you see the website address. If the site is secure, the address will start with “https://” instead of “http://” and you’ll see a lock icon next to the address. If you’re using an online store, you might just see the standard http:// while you’re browsing, but you should be seeing the https:// and lock symbol when you go to check out.

Contact Your Bank If Someone Asks For Your Account Information

Sometimes people get e-mail or text messages from a person claiming to be from a bank and they need you to reply with your account information. Although many banks have the option to receive text or e-mail alerts, they won’t ask you to send sensitive information through text or e-mail. If you get a message like this, contact your bank directly to see if there really is a problem.

Make Charitable Donations Directly Through the Charity’s Website

When a natural disaster occurs, scam artists are all too aware that many people are eager to donate money. Scam artists have been known to set up fake websites that look like they belong to legitimate organizations like The Red Cross. To be sure your money is going where you want it to, go directly to the charity’s website and donate through there instead of using a link you get in an e-mail or that a person has posted on social media.

Check for Seller Feedback

With the popularity of sites like eBay and Etsy, it’s easier than ever for legitimate independent sellers to set up shop online. But unfortunately, it’s also very easy for scam artists to take advantage of people this way. Never buy anything without checking a seller’s feedback for negative ratings. If it’s a store or company you’ve never heard of or ordered from before, do a quick Google search on them and see what you can find.

Read Item Descriptions Very Closely

While there are many legitimate sellers on the Internet, there are many other sellers who aren’t so ethical. The Internet is full of counterfeit versions of just about anything you can imagine: concert and sporting event tickets, jewelry, designer clothes, cosmetics, perfume, antiques. Some sellers don’t outright lie about selling knock-off merchandise, but they’ll write item descriptions in very misleading ways. Beware of descriptions that include words like “replica” or “style.”

Beware of Free Trials

If there’s a free trial for a product or service you are considering going for, be sure to read the fine print very closely. The trial may be free for a certain amount of time, but if you don’t cancel in time, you can end up with some pretty expensive charges you didn’t mean to sign up for.

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True…

…It probably is. This is a really good rule of thumb for dealing with things on the Internet. That $50 Louis Vuitton purse is likely a fake, that hot stock tip a person swears is a sure thing is probably not going to make you a millionaire, and you probably won’t be getting a windfall from a sweepstakes in the UK. While you might occasionally find something that genuinely is an amazing deal, those are outnumbered by the fakes.

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