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How to Avoid Online Scams

By Edited Apr 25, 2016 12 57

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

Online Scam
Trust 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.



Apr 3, 2011 11:30pm
DPeach, Certainly a well written piece about this historically large scale problem. The future doesn't look much better and due dilligance is the only safety net we have.
You offer a great deal of insight into the things we as consumers can do on line to protect our transactions.
Thumbs up all the way on this one from me!!
Apr 3, 2011 11:51pm
Thanks for the comment dreamaker! Scams have been going on for years. Whether it is in the mail, on the phone or through the Internet, people need to adapt and realize there are con men eagerly awaiting to take their money.
Aug 31, 2011 7:09pm
good information on a ever growing problem. thanks...
Apr 5, 2011 10:45am
Outstanding article on "How to Avoid Online Scams." If it has not been nominated for a Feature Article, then I will be nominating it. Good job!
Apr 5, 2011 11:27am
Thanks southerngirl09. I hope it keeps some people out of trouble.
Apr 5, 2011 1:15pm
A brilliant article dpeach well thought and well written, great job!
Apr 5, 2011 4:02pm
Thank you CristalNici! I appreciate you stopping by to read it.
Apr 5, 2011 5:20pm
If the admin sees this, I'd like to cast my vote for front page featured article. Great advice and thanks for writing
Apr 5, 2011 7:09pm
Thanks opamp. I appreciate your praise for this piece, but appreciate more your contribution to making it into an article.

For those who don't know, I got the original idea from a forum post by opamp. The foundational points of this article come from opamp.
Apr 5, 2011 6:47pm
Excellent information! We all need to use a little judgement and patience before jumping too quickly at online "opportunities."
Apr 5, 2011 7:10pm
I appreciate your comments Deborah-Diane. This may be a good article to read every so often to remind myself that not everything is as good as it seems.
Apr 7, 2011 1:46pm
Most of us should take a little time to think about the risk and to take dpeach's advice. If I look for it, then I can click on valid sites. If I get anything in the email, I don't click. I go to their site and initiate the process myself.
Apr 7, 2011 8:33pm
That is a good point. Never click on a link in an email that will ask you to log into a website like your bank. You should go to your bank's website because you typed in the address yourself. Links in emails can be masked and used to trick you into giving your login information to the bad guys.
May 7, 2011 3:15pm
I agree that there are a lot of scams online and if you are a newbie in making money online you can fall for everything. Most of these scams look the same, they all are the best options available and they all have just few places left. And the price is always mentioned as Amazing and Limited offer. I always make deep review of the site before I join the system. The first thing I do is google keywords site.com+scam and see what others are saying.
May 7, 2011 10:57pm
That is a great tip. I do the same thing. When something sounds too good to be true, or even if it sounds legit, I still like to look for the item in Google while adding the word 'scam' to my search.
May 11, 2011 12:18pm
Add my vote for featured article as well. People can also fact-check with snopes.com regarding suspicious emails that are hoaxes just trying to get your personal information when requesting that, for example: "you forward this email to everyone in your address book" for whatever reason...a missing child or some horror like breaking into your vehicle just to get the "Home Info" from your GPS or being snatched up at the gas pump. The world is not an innocent one anymore.
May 12, 2011 9:43pm
I wished more people would spend a little time researching the validity of an email on Snopes or similar sites before forwarding them.

Thanks for the comment.
May 11, 2011 3:11pm
Great article, i agree would make a great feature. Venetia, I trust truthorfiction more than snopes.
May 12, 2011 9:43pm
I am not familiar with TruthorFiction. I will have to check them out.
May 12, 2011 3:38pm
These are all valuable tips and well worth remembering.
May 12, 2011 9:44pm
Thanks Darlene. I hope it helps other people not get scammed.
May 14, 2011 5:47am
Great information which should help prevent someone from being caught out. Although some online scammers are so clever we have to really be on the ball. Thanks for sharing this important subject and bringing it to many more peoples attention
May 19, 2011 9:49pm
They find so many ways to scam the reader. That is where it helps to have a community you can go and ask questions from who may be a bit more tech savvy than you. Knowing how to use Google helps too.
May 17, 2011 9:13am
Excellent information good article thanks
May 19, 2011 9:50pm
Thanks BlogMakesMoney! I hope it keeps people out of trouble.
May 20, 2011 2:40am
I am normally very alert for online scams. But some time back, I was casually surfing and all of a sudden a warning box popped up saying that your computer is infected with a virus and that you need to download this extra security add-on. At first I ignored it and then it came up again and again.

I thought maybe it is my anti-virus software that is giving me this message and asking me to install a security patch.

So I clicked it. Guess what... Immediately after clicking it, I knew I had done a grave mistake... Something just downloaded too fast for me to notice

And then my problems started. Warnings started popping up here and there everywhere... I had to shut down the internet and my computer... It was mentally torturing..

Finally I called the tech guy. I was lucky my computer was booting... I don't know what I'd have done if it was not booting at all...

I had to format my hard disk and re-install everything... It was a very hard time...

So thanks for this article... and guys beware... Don't click anything that is unfamiliar.. Better safe than sorry
May 20, 2011 11:13am
Those pop-ups can look very convincing. I see them on occasion on my computer, but I always know they are fake. Because I use Linux as my operating system, and those pop-ups look just like Windows, I know it is a scam. But every time I see one, I think about my parents. I fear that they will be duped into the mess that you experienced.

It is good to point out that these types of scams exist.

Sorry you had to go through that mess.
Jun 24, 2011 12:12am
HI NetBizTips, I had exactly the same problem with my computer; it was supposed to be "home security 2012"; trying to pass as an antivirus but requesting money to clear all the virus on my computer. I have friends who work in IT and they managed to cleared it without having to format my hard disk; it took them just 5 min.
May 21, 2011 10:50am
Congratulations on a well written feature dpeach, important information for everyone that wanders through the internet world even if just to play games and communicate by email like many elderly do!
May 22, 2011 10:00pm
You are right about everyone needing this information. Unfortunately, many of the people who need this information the most won't know how to look for it and find it on their own.
May 21, 2011 4:42pm
Well done man.
May 22, 2011 10:00pm
Thanks! I appreciate the encouragement you have been to my writing here.
May 22, 2011 8:52pm
May 22, 2011 10:01pm
Thanks Venetia. I appreciate you stopping by to read my article.
May 30, 2011 3:59am
very helpful considering the high risk of getting conned online. many people especially in this part of the world (Africa) have fallen victim to this mainly because of a limited knowledge base and their naive outlook to the internet. Thanks so much, great article
May 30, 2011 2:24pm
Thanks for your comment Kula200. I notice you are a new writer at InfoBarrel. Welcome to the website.
May 31, 2011 12:36pm
Yeah dpeach, am just about six days old but totally loving the website. The whole points idea keeps me on my toes
Jun 2, 2011 8:10am
These are very good tips specially for those lured by promise of free stuff or get rich quick schemes. Thanks for these reminders.
Jun 2, 2011 9:13am
There is so much more that could be said about specific scams. I hope these general tips will help keep people from being duped.

Thanks for the comment!
Jun 3, 2011 11:31am
Scammers are getting cleverer and cleverer. I received emails from what appeared to be facebook telling me i havent logged in in a while and that I had 44 new notifications( I logged in that morning and I knew I didn't have that many notifications) Thing is the link looked like a facebook link.

Another one to look out for is calls. I got a call from my mobile phone service provider asking if I wanted to avail of better deals. Now this could have been legitimate and it probably was but like you said in the article "trust your instincts". The girl seemed a little pushy and after ringing me sheasked me to confirm my name and address??!!!?!. At this point I said i was busy and would call them back.
I just wasn't sure so better safe than sorry and trust your instincts.
Jun 6, 2011 10:30am
I had a similar phone call a couple of years ago. It was a legitimate problem at my bank, but to make sure I wasn't getting scammed I asked the lady to give me the phone number to the bank and what I needed to do to get connected with her when I called the bank back. She gave me the number and I was able to confirm that it really was the phone number to the bank and was able to get reconnected with her to straighten out the problem. But when people call me I tend to be leery of the call.
Jun 4, 2011 5:13am
Some good tips here - especially about big up front payments. I've found that many people have been scared off "making money online/from home" simply because they were ripped off by someone selling the information that they could've got from a Google search.
Jun 6, 2011 10:33am
I think it is best to get your feet wet with all the free information you can get when starting a new venture. After you learn how things work on a basic level then you can start looking at buying products and services that will help you. But jumping in immediately by buying a high-dollar product is often a mistake. The product may not even be a scam, but also may not be necessary.

Thanks for the comment.
Jun 6, 2011 4:23pm
My problem is that my instincts tell me everything is a scam.

The phone is easier because when you call out you know who you called but when someone calls you you don't know who they are.

The internet is different, in that even if you found them it could very well be a scam. Good thoughts in your article of things to think about.
Jun 6, 2011 11:19pm
Of course not everything is a scam, but if you treat everything as if it were, you will probably be better off. I know some people who trust too much for their own good. That is what the scammers are hoping for.
Jun 20, 2011 7:03am
Excellent information and we need to aware from these types of online scams.
Jun 24, 2011 12:17am
Excellent article! as you mentioned on your article! be aware of up-front payments; I always try to read as many reviews as possible; if I can't find any then I know there is something wrong.
Jun 24, 2011 8:04am
Good point. I read a lot about companies before I shell out any cash. Even if it is a small amount for a monthly service. I want to know what other people's experience is.
Aug 28, 2011 1:50pm
Wonderful and much needed article!Thanks for sharing this!!
the first thing i do to check whether something is real or a scam, i go to google search and find how other people are reacting to it!
Aug 31, 2011 11:30pm
I spend a few minutes on Google for anything that I am interested in. It usually doesn't take long to find information if something is really bad.
Sep 6, 2011 9:35pm
great info. these are things people really need to know. THANKS FOR SHARING...
Sep 23, 2011 5:52pm
I think another growing scam online is the ones website sellers are doing. I have been reading about this subject at: www.buyingawebsite.blogspot.com
Sep 24, 2011 5:35am
Excellent advice on scammers Dpeach. Well worth a plus1.
Sep 25, 2011 10:28pm
the info here are very valuable this is my first visit i will bookmark this site for future reference
Sep 25, 2011 10:29pm
good info a like the article they are very valuable tips keep it up
Oct 12, 2011 4:12pm
I was searching for tips how I can avoid scams on internet as i was affected by scams in the past. I wont be cheated hear after reading your tips. it is very informative to me. keep up your good work.
Oct 21, 2011 12:05am
Good advice especially as it relates to spammers.
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