Don't Fall for Online Scams
When looking to buy a product or service from someone online, there are steps you can take to keep from being scammed. You can get an amazing deal on some items if you know where to look. But sometimes these deals jump out in front of you and are seemingly too good to be true. This is your first sign that the great deal is either not true, or deserves more investigation.
When an offer comes looking for you, you should become a skeptic and think through some of these points. There are plenty of scams on the Internet for you to stumble into, but many online scams come looking for their victims instead of the other way around. The fact that a deal comes to you is the first clue that something may not be completely honest.
Not all online scams will come looking for you though. It is possible that you are searching for a certain service and land upon the deal of the century. Remember that you probably found the offer as a result of an online search. Spend a few more minutes finding out more about the company or individual before diving in.
You may receive an email (or phone call) telling you that you have won a lottery in which you never bought a ticket. Or you may be contacted to help out a person in need. Usually these requests have a simple set of steps you have to go through to cash in your part for helping.
Steps to Avoid Online Scams
Credit: kahle @ MorgueFileTrust your instincts. Legitimate sellers concerned for their customers are not pushy and confrontational. Scammers don't have the time nor patience to give good customer service. They either won't answer your questions or won't answer honestly. If your immediate thought is that something does not seem right, it probably isn't. This concept is covered in detail in Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink.
Research the seller or company online. Try to get an idea of their reputation. If it is a service, then ask for reviews and samples of their work. For example, online marketers should have plenty of examples on the Internet that they can point you to. This lets you see their production quality. Marketplaces which allow buyers to rate sellers are a good place to dig around for information about the person making the offer.
Be aware of high up-front payments. Con artists and scammers who try to make quick money will insist on doing a big transaction if possible. They are not willing to wait for you to get a sample of their work by ordering a smaller amount. But you should still be cautious even if you do a small transaction first. Online scams that are well planned may be willing to take their time to pull you in for a larger amount. With smaller transactions you risk little even if they do scam you for the smaller amount.
Don't let emotions alter your judgment. A good con artist knows how to play on people's emotions and passions. Try to explain the offer to someone else who is not emotionally attached to the deal. They can look at things with a greater sense of clarity and help you think through some of the pitfalls before you.
Don't make a hasty decision. If the deal is a good deal now, it will still be a good deal tomorrow after you think about the opportunity. Online scams play up the urgency of the offer. This does not mean that everything that has a time limitation is a scam, but many people perpetrating a scam are not patient.
Check out the prices for similar goods and services. Be wary if the offer you are given is considerably lower than the price other people are offering the same service. Knowing what you should pay for said service or product will help you avoid inferior goods. This is where seeing samples of the person's work will help you make a more informed decision.
Don't install any software at the person's request until you can completely vet the situation. Having to install software to get the information you need is a tip that something is not legitimate. Many online scams which spread through social networking sites like Facebook require that you grant access to applications to see a video or get more info. Is giving up your personal information worth being able to see a steamy video?
A person who is legitimate will not mind you asking lots of questions and insisting to get more information. However, someone trying to pull off an online scam will get uncomfortable or become impatient with your questions. Be insistent. If the one selling the service gets irritable, even if they are legitimate, they are proving that they aren't the type of person you want to work with.
The biggest thing to remember is that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts. Do your research and insist on seeing reviews or samples of the person's work. Keep your wit's about you and take your time thinking through the offer. Then do your friends and family a favor by warning them of the type of online scam that someone tried to pull over on you. You could save them from some heartache.