How To: Protect Yourself from Getting Scammed Online
It never ceases to amaze me – a customer calls in to our office and asks about a company they recently signed up with, and I look into them only to find out that the company is a scam. This is something that we deal with every day in the web industry. The worst part is, that what most of these companies are doing is technically legal, meaning the money you lost is money lost, and it usually ends up costing the victim thousands of dollars that are ultimately unrecoverable.
What does a scam look like?
Often times a scam doesn’t look like a scam, and is usually disguised as an “opportunity” or a “limited time offer” to “people in your area”. Everything about a bogus opportunity will feel especially personalized to you via: location, gender, age, etc. Scams often include a story that seems too good to be true, and 99.9% of the time, they ARE too good to be true (regardless of how they make you feel).
The people responsible for creating these misleading offers are typically very smart, sometimes genius, marketers. They understand the demographics they are targeting, and they exploit their fears and dreams to lure those people into signing up for their “cash system”. These people are excellent story tellers, and will capture your imagination with big dreams of “making thousands of dollars every day”.
Who do the Scammers target most?
The saddest thing to admit is that the key target audience for scammers are the elderly and poor. People on fixed incomes. People who are retired or on disability. Scammers prey on ignorance and a lack of internet savvy.
To get more information about internet fraud and scam demographics, visit the FBI’s official site “Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov)“
How to Avoid Getting Scammed
The easiest way to avoid getting scammed is to know what you’re getting into. Read the terms and conditions of any payment form you may think about entering your credit card into. You can also do a quick Google search for the company’s name (or domain name) and see what kind of reputation they have with their customers. You can also check out their BBB (Better Business Bureau) report to see if they have any complaints against them. If a company has a track record of ripping off their customers, or a high level of customer dissatisfaction, you probably shouldn’t do business with them.
Most of all, go with your gut. If something seems too good to be true, it typically is.