How to avoid online fraud and scams - don't be ripped off.

Cruncher By Cruncher, 25th Aug 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Money>Making Money

How to avoid being ripped off online. Don't be come a victim of internet scams. Learn how to take precautions against fraud.

Don't get ripped off

There are lots of ways to make money online. (Writing for Wikinut is one. Sign up here, if you haven't already.) But there are also ways to lose money. There are plenty of unpleasant people out there who just want to scam you out of your hard earned cash. Here's a few tips to help you avoid becoming a a victim of online fraud.

1. If it seems to good to be true - it (almost certainly) is.

Why would they want to make that offer?

Think about it from their point of view - can you understand why they are making you this offer? What's in it for them? If you can see why the deal benefits them too, it might be fine. If you really can't don't be afraid to ask them. Because if there is no obvious motive for them to give make you the offer, there might be a hidden motive. And that motive might be involve ripping your off.

And if you're offered a "sure-fire, no risk" investment, ask why they aren't investing all they can in it themselves rather than wasting time offering it to you.

2. Be very clear before you give anyone any money what it is for.

Don't pay for "work opportunities"!

Make sure you understand what you are paying for, what (if anything) you get paid for, and what happens if you are not happy and want to get your money back. Be very wary of upfront "admin fees" for online work, or people promising you something amazing like a lottery win if you just send them a little bit of money first.

And never pay for "work opportunities" - they should pay you! If there really are costs (for materials, or agency fees) they should be able to recover them from your first paycheck. (Do also make sure they don't take more than they should). There should be no reason at all for you to send money to them. You wouldn't pay McDonalds for the privilege of flipping burgers!

Also beware promises of job opportunities, where you have to pay a registration fee before you can see even see them. It is possible there are legitimate paid job search websites out there, but most of the time they make money from charging advertisers not job seekers so be very wary if it's the other way around.

Training course online can be a grey area. Of course there are some fantastic training courses which are more than worth the money. On the other hand some training courses can make extravagant promises about future earnings from what you'll learn that rarely if ever come about. And worse some "courses" take large registration fees and then never give you anything at all.

3. Pay by credit card rather than bank transfer

Bank transfers are like putting cash through a letter box.

Bank transfers are almost impossible to reverse but your credit card issuer usually will give you some money back if you have been defrauded - so long as you are completely innocent and have done everything properly. The exact protection will depend on your card issuer and the law where you live.

Bank transfers should only be used when you know and trust the recipient. It is the same as putting an envelope full of cash through someone's letterbox and just as difficult to get back if it all goes wrong.

If the other person insists on cash, bank transfer or a wire service like Western Union, ask yourself why? Is it because they aren't going to be there if you try to get your money back?

4. Do some background research

Make sure they are who they say they are

Google them to look for any signs of trouble. Check review sites (but remember it is possible to stuff these with positive reviews, or negative reviews of competitors so take them with a pinch of salt).

If they say they are a registered company check that they really are - most countries have central registries that you can check. But be careful - just because they say they come from a certain company doesn't mean they are not lying.

If you have any doubts about whether they do work for who they say they do you can always try to contact the company yourself via an official route. E.g. phone the central switchboard of the company and ask to be put through to that person.

5. Check on some "scambusting" sites.

But be careful - that doesn't guarantee it's OK.

Many countries have official "scambusting" websites:
Anti-Fraud Center (Canada)

And there are also plenty of public spirited websites out there fighting the scammers. For example:

Now, just because something doesn't appear on a scambusting site doesn't mean it's safe! You might be the first victim of a new scam. But it should give you some reassurance, especially if there are no other danger signals. But remember, a scam busting is not a substitute for being sensible yourself.

6. If something feels wrong don't do it.

Better to miss out on a opportunity than to get scammed.

Trust your instincts. You'll often know if something doesn't feel right. And remember if it looks "too good to be true", then the chances are it's not true.

Talk to people you trust. Just telling someone else will often help you understand what's going on much better. And they may be able to offer you advice from their own experience.

7. Sleep on it

There's no rush!

Don't rush into anything. Give yourself some time to digest what's on offer and if it's right for you.

If someone is pushing you to send money asap, that is often a bad sign in itself. Doesn't always mean it's a scam but ask yourself - why are they so keen to get you to sign up straight away? If they really believe it's a good deal they'll have the confidence that you'll come back tomorrow. Stay strong and take your time.

There is no way to be 100% safe from scams. But be sensible, talk to wise people that you trust and follow the tips above to keep yourself safe from 99% of them. It's your money, look after it.


Fraud, Online Scam, Rip Off, Safety Online, Scam

Meet the author

author avatar Cruncher
The Cruncher is a finance professional working in London, UK. He has a wide knowledge of pensions and investments (and spreadsheets). And would rather keep his online opinions about them separate from

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author avatar Retired
26th Aug 2013 (#)


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author avatar Cruncher
26th Aug 2013 (#)

You're welcome!

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