Don't Fall for Scams:
It seems that every day we hear about people who fall victim to one of the many scams. Some we heard recently:
* Scammer using Craigslist to post fake ads for job openings at popular companies.
* Scammers creating a group on Facebook called something like, "Ikea first 5,000 fans to Register get a $1,000 gift card"
These are fake. Just ask yourself these questions:
* why would a popular company, who clearly can afford professional recruiters or the posting fee on Monster.com, resort to free Craigslist postings?
* why would a popular company need to give out $5 Million in gift cards just to do something like register on their site, which tens of thousands of people already do anyway?
If anyone asks for any personal information (mailing address, phone number, etc), never trust them unless you initiate the communication yourself, and if you know they can be trusted with your information. On the Internet, anyone can claim to be anyone, and often scammers will use scare tactics, false promotions, or fake awards to entice people to enter their information. There are some warning signs to look out for:
* Scammers who "contact you", claiming to know things about you or saw your profile online:
o If someone contacts you by any means (phone, email, postal mail, text messages), never automatically assume they are who they say they are.
o If someone claims to know you, but they do not even know your name, do not respond.
o Often scammers use a scare tactic, such as alerting you that your bank account has been compromised and you must click the link and re-enter your bank's login information. Those are almost always fake look-alike sites designed to steal your account, and will steal your money. If you do receive such a notice from your bank or credit card and wonder whether it's legit, simply call your bank using the phone number printed on your card or monthly statement. Never click links within emails claiming to be from a bank or credit institution, even if they appear are legitimate, unless of course you are expecting an email from them on that day.
* Scammers who "solicit victims":
o If you see an online ad for jobs at a company on a non-reputable website (such as Craigslist), check the company's website for contact information, and call or email them to confirm the job postings are real. Also if a prospective employer ever asks you for a social security number or copy of your license BEFORE you interview by phone or in-person, they are likely identity thieves.
o If a new Twitter page or Facebook page appears and claims to be a company or person, but asks you to enter any personal information, forward something to friends, or "sign up" to get something, do not do it unless you know for certain they are legitimate.
o If you receive an official-looking letter in the mail notifying you that your car's warranty is about to expire, or your Internet domain name must be renewed to avoid losing it, never respond to those. Even if they happen to know your car's make & model, or your domain name's real name, be aware that information is not difficult for scammers to find. Even if they are not scams, often they are non-reputable third-parties trying to scare you into giving them your money or transferring your existing services to them.
* Scammers who Email:
o If an unfamiliar person uses a free email account like @yahoo.com or @gmail.com, never assume they are who they say they are.
o If someone you do not know personally uses an email account at a domain name you never heard of, do some research before assuming they are legitimate. First use Domaintools.com, look up their email address, then scroll to the bottom and view their registration information. If their mailing address does not appear real, or uses a "privacy" or "proxy" service to hide their identity, chances are they are a scammer. Second, see if they have a website, and contact them using the phone number, email address, or mailing address on their website. Third, run a simple google search on the company and see how many results show up, to see if they appear legitimate. Legitimate companies always keep their contact information public.
o Sometimes scammers will send fake invitations to events, or fake emails showing your order is on hold and must be claimed. Again, confirm the information by contacting the company yourself via their website and/or phone, and never click on links within the emails.
o Scammers may claim they know you, but you don't know them. Those emails often include an offer.
o Scammers may offer illegal services or products by email.
o More often than not, scammers' emails will have something odd about them, such as typos, grammatical and spelling errors, formatting issues, websites which don't function well, and may be addressed to you indirectly ("friend," "sir" or "madam").
o If an email appears confusing or illegible, just ignore it. If a website doesn't function as you expect, be suspicious of it.
* Chain Email Hoaxes and Facebook Fan Pages:
o Anytime you get an email suggesting you will benefit by forwarding it to a certain number of friends, those are friendly hoaxes designed to waste people's time and clog up people's inboxes. If a Facebook Fan Page appears and says you will get money or fame by referring 10 friends to fan the page, that is a scam and you will receive nothing. If you received such an email or Facebook Fan alert from one of your friends, let them know they fell victim of an Internet hoax.
* Scammers who approach you in-person:
o Legitimate people collecting money for a cause will have fliers, contact numbers, and websites because they want to get their word to as many people they can. Scammers will likely have dirty or mutilated signs, or may tell a "hard luck" story.
o Scammers will likely solicit an area for an hour or two, then move to another location to avoid suspicion. So if there is someone you have never seen before or ever heard of, simply ask for their credentials, licenses, or identification before giving them any money or information.
o Ask for their office phone number, take out your cell phone, and call them right away. Someone trying to steal something from you will likely not give out any of their personal information, such as their real phone number.
Never send a money order, checks, cash, phone numbers, or your social security number to anyone you met on the Internet. Paypal is also somewhat unsafe as well, unless the transaction is associated with a binding contract such as going through Ebay. Try to use a credit card for online transactions. Credit cards are a little safer than debit cards, because desputing fraudulent charges are far easier before the funds are removed from your checking account.
If you decide to meet someone in-person, such as buying/selling goods on Craigslist or if you met someone through an online social website, be sure to meet in a public place or an area where there are other people around.
Most of all, use common sense. It never hurts to ask questions, and don't forget to confirm their identity by means other than what they provide to you, and don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call them to ensure they are legit.