Internet fraud can take many forms, from retail websites that do not deliver, to phishing emails for credit or bank information, to technical support scams that take over your desktop and everything in between. However, they have a common goal: extracting money or personal information from an unsuspecting user.
If you come across something that seems vague, you can view it as follows before you deposit your money.
Three signs that a website is legitimate
Hopefully, most websites that you come across are legitimate. There are two quick ways to tell, plus one that requires just a little more leg work.
2. In addition, some sites are independently certified to be secure by displaying trust marks such as the Norton Secured Seal (managed by DigiCert) or the McAfee Secure certification (managed by TrustedSite). In China, an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license indicates that a site is registered with the government and may work.
3. Check the WHOIS information for the names and locations of website owners. As defined by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), WHOIS is not an acronym. It literally means "who is responsible for a domain name or an IP address?"
Go to WHOIS and enter a URL in the search box and then click the Lookup button. ICANN displays the WHOIS information about that website, unless the site is protected by a domain privacy service (also known as a proxy protection service).
Pay attention to the date the site was created: older sites that have existed for a long time are usually reputable
Finding fraudulent websites
In an earlier article we dealt with to website owners identify, and much of that information also applies to finding out whether a site is fraudulent or otherwise vague:
2. Check the location data on the site, that is, make sure that the telephone number, address, e-mail address, etc. are all valid. This is easy enough to check with a search on the internet or by calling the phone number.
3. If you want to know if a website is suspicious, consult the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission or one of the many lists for tracing internet fraud for complaints or fraud cases.
Rules of thumb for the retail trade
You cannot be too alert when you shop online, especially if you begin to delve into obscure sites through internet search.
1. Read the fine print on customer contracts, agreements, product information and return policy. I know these contracts are long and tedious, but it's worth your time if it keeps you from being scammed.
2. Don't be fooled by incredible prices. If it's too good to be true, it's probably not.
3. Read customer reviews on that site, but don't be fooled by an incredible number of good reviews. First read the bad reviews and watch what the customers say. If there are many bad reviews, companies hire people to write hundreds of & # 39; fake & # 39; good reviews in the hope that a windfall will cancel out the negative comments. Clients tend to complain more than compliment, so believe the complaints, especially if the reviewer provides contact information for further discussion.
Companies that personally tackle and offer poor reviews to offer a refund, replacement product or agree to discuss a resolution are worth a second chance. At least they try to keep their customers happy.
4. Check the shipping options and the shipping company. If the company is unknown to you, or if it does not provide tracking numbers or a reasonable shipping time, you must find another supplier. Reputable companies use well-known, reliable shipping companies, such as USPS, FedEx, UPS and DHL.
5. Always pay with a credit card, because you can challenge the costs if you are scammed by an unethical company or if one of those companies sells your card number to a third party that carries out a number of unauthorized debits. Most banks treat debit cards with the same courtesy. If your bank does the same, a debit card is a safe alternative.
NOTE: Federal laws limit unauthorized charges to $ 50 if your account is misused.
6. Do not click on email links for special "deals", shopping or sweepstakes prizes and do not disclose any personal information such as credit card or bank account numbers, passwords, or user IDs for any of these email promotions. If you receive an email promotion, use a search engine to check the website URL. Visit the site directly through your internet browser and then search for the promotional product on the site.
7. Another handy trick is to validate email links. Move your cursor over the link and the actual URL will appear in a pop-up window. If in the promotional ad & # 39; Win a free trip to Paris & # 39; If the actual URL doesn't show anything that looks like a valid game or travel agency, it's probably a scam.
8. Hackers often hijack users' address books and send infected emails that appear to come from friends, family or colleagues. Never open an e-mail attachment unless you personally know the person or organization that sends the attachment, or you expect an attachment that results from an appointment. Even if both are true, you still need to call or e-mail the sender and confirm that they intended to send you an e-mail attachment.