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Internet Scams and Hoaxes

Updated on June 28, 2015

Pros and Cons of Internet Shopping

Online shopping continues to grow in popularity, because you can save a lot of money, find goods you might never find in local stores, and shop in the comfort of your own home. Many online retailers are reputable, inexpensive, and trustworthy. Unfortunately, many are dishonest. If you want to protect your identity, your credit rating, your privacy, and your finances, you need to read this article.

Each year, consumers lose over $100 billion as a direct result of internet scams, hoaxes, and phishing.  Visa recently noted that the largest reason for financial loss online is fraudulent transactions.  Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself from financial loss.  Virtually all reputable online retailers have several common characteristics. Fortunately, scams do too.

Safer Online Shopping

Dave Hatter on Fox 19 (WXIX) discussing safe Internet Shopping

Free Norton And Anti Virus Protection And Spyware Removal

Stopping Identity Theft

Internet Scams and Hoaxes: Identity Theft

Protect Yourself from Internet Scams and Hoaxes

  • If you can't talk to a customer representative, don't do business with any online business. If an online business does not have readily available contact information on their site, you have to wonder why they don't want you to contact them. Reputable businesses are willing to talk to you in person. Don't do business with anyone online if they aren't willing to talk to you in person. Don't be fooled by a phone number that doesn't actually work. Call the number and talk to a person. Voicemails or answering machines don't count. Again, talk to a person. If the company has a phone number and you can talk to a representative, it's far less likely to be a scam.
  • Check to see the company's mailing address. If they don't have one, they may be trying to conceal their true identity or location. Some companies will claim to be in Canada or another highly desirable country when they are in fact in another country. Look for a mailing address. If you don't see one, move on to the next online business.
  • Check the domain name.The domain name is at the top of your computer screen. It probably looks something like this: This is Google's domain. You can see the company's name in the domain. That's a good sign. In this example, Google is more likely to be reputable. If the domain does not have a name, beware. Online companies that are trying to scam you might have a domain that does not contain a company name but does contain a lot of information. It might look something like this: Do you see the difference? If somebody is trying to scam you, they hope you don't.
  • Don't do business with any online business that sends an advertisement to you. More often than not, they are not reputable.
  • Don't be fooled by fancy graphics. Fraudulent companies know that people are often fooled by appearance. Would you buy a nice looking car without looking at the engine? Don't judge a book by its cover. Do your research.
  • Beware of online forums. Online business reviews from these sites are highly suspect unless you know and respect the person posting a review. I recently researched a product that looked highly suspicious. The online reviews were great. One person, however, made an interesting and observant comment. He said, “I noticed that all of the reviews for this product are coming from Minnesota, the state where this product is manufactured.” Shortly after this comment was posted, the actual company posted a reply. They acknowledged that the posts came from their employees but encouraged us to try the product. Online forums are suspect. You never know who is posting reviews.
  • Browse the online business's list of goods. Reputable companies will often sell many, many goods, typically hundreds or thousands. Unreputable companies, the kind that are a scam, will often only sell a few.
  • Do an internet search for the online business. If the company appears only once or twice in the results, be skeptical. Companies that have been around and are reputable often have many different sites or sites dedicated to them. If you see any sites dedicated to complaining about the business, that certainly should be a big warning, but it shouldn’t be an immediate deal breaker. The customer is not always right, and any business, regardless of how diligently they try to do business, will become the target of angry customers. Don’t immediately discount a business simply based on a single site that makes bold claims. Read about the company on several sites.
  • Before doing business with an online retailer, be sure they have a secured system for payment. If you're sending your credit card number across the Internet, you want to make sure it's safe. Reputable companies will have security in place when it comes to your credit information. Make sure there is some kind of credit security in place.
  • If the business is selling something that is illegal, immediately close the browser. It's likely a scam, or it’s not a reputable company.
  • For greater detail about selecting an online business, please view the videos on this site. I highly recommend all of them.
  • Consult the Better Business Bureau if you're in doubt. Another great site is the Federal Trade Commission.
  • If you're purchasing something on Ebay or Craigslist, never wire money for payment. There are scams you need to know about on Craigslist and Ebay.
  • There's one last thing to remember. If it's too good to be true, run! Scams and hoaxes are often based in greed. Everybody wants something for nothing, a great deal. Because everybody knows this, thieves will often try to entice you by making offers that are too good to be true. Don't fall for the oldest trick in the book. If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Don't take a chance on some obscure and questionable site, because it seems to have the best deal. Promising a great deal is one thing. Delivering it is another.

Internet Scams and Hoaxes - Comments

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    • Powerpoe1 profile image

      Powerpoe1 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing the pros and cons of internet shopping. Oftentimes, individuals are really excited about purchasing a new product and do not necessarily read the fine print or research the item. The scammers are using very sophisicated software to link in to your personal information. Voted Up & Rated Useful~

    • profile image

      Shyloh Needs A Financial Advisor 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this information! I am getting ready to hire a financial advisor because my internet spending is getting slightly out of hand!

    • SecurityMetrics profile image

      SecurityMetrics 6 years ago

      Very useful hub, thanks! Consumers lose $100 billion because of internet scams, hoaxes, and phishing--Wow!