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Tips on how to detect and avoid Internet scams

The Internet has a lot of advantages: instant communication, great sources of knowledge, entertainment and the opportunity to telecommute, to name a few. However, along with the good, there are some aspects that are not so positive.

The anonymity

The anonymity of the Internet makes it the perfect place of scammers to do their dirty work – or at least, to attempt to do their dirty work.

Inform yourself about common Internet scams – requests for money and identity theft – and you will be in a strong position to detect and avoid them in the future.

Requests for money

Ironically, Internet tricksters who try to bilk folks out of their cash appeal to two basic but opposing human instincts – kindheartedness and greed. These crooks could be called “equal opportunity” scammers.

Fortunately they tend not to be overly creative, so there are distinct patterns to watch out for. The way to avoid being taken in by these Internet scams is simple. Don’t send them any money.

1. A “desperate” appeal
Although most people have caught on by now, quite a few were fooled in the past by plaintive emails from strangers claiming to be in the most desperate circumstances and begging for financial aid.

These were followed by even more heart wrenching emails that appeared to be from an acquaintance of the recipient, stranded and penniless in a foreign land. (What actually happened was that a hacker had invaded the “sender’s” email account and hijacked their address book.)

In a similar vein, following tragedies such as 9/11, scammers sent out pleas claiming to be from charitable organizations. The common thread in all these cases is an urgent request for cash to be sent to a PO Box or other untraceable destination.

2. Too good to be true

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is a useful motto to keep in mind when dealing with the Internet. Stellar job opportunities, amazing investments and get rich quick schemes of every sort are offered all over the Web.

Almost invariably, they just require a small registration fee, down payment or proof of good will. Whatever you choose to call it, it means money that will move in one direction – out of your pocket and into the scammer’s.

Identity theft

Identity theft, also known as “phishing,” is an even more insidious type of Internet scam. In this case, con artists will try to get confidential information about your email account or your finances, such as credit card details, so that they can use it to their own advantage.

The most common form of this scam is an email that appears to be from a reputable organization, such as your email provider or bank, asking you to list passwords or other private information so that they can verify your account.

Do not reply or click on any links. Contact the institution through its website if you want to check whether they sent you the email.

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Grace Chen
Grace Chen - Writer & Editor
A graduate of the Haas School of Business, University of California, which is one of the top three (3) business schools in the U.S., Grace Chen has 10 years of experience in this field and have been delivering stellar business content through her written word. She’s the chief editor of Communicate Better and has written and edited thousands of content published in various online and printed media, including the NYSE-sponsored research studies and MEC Global. Connect with Grace on LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/grace-chen-9254ab8/