Three Ways To Avoid Scams
Avoid answering or reject calls from unlisted and unknown numbers. Caller ID is a nice feature but does not reflect the true contact info for all callers. There are many individuals and companies that use fake information that is displayed on your caller ID so that they can speak with you without being contacted in return. Users of caller ID spoofing obviously can contact you but are ensuring that it will be practically impossible for you to track them down. This fact alone speaks volumes about those who use this tactic.
Using Caller ID spoofing is an important sign that the caller is not honest and it's best to assume that whatever they have up their sleeve for you is not something you are interested in. It is recommended that you answer and request them not to call again or avoid answering. Caller ID spoofing is not only used by the thousands of fraudulent telemarketers in the US, it is also used by collection agencies, angry exes, criminals, and those who want to pull pranks on you or your loved ones.
While many people have friends, colleagues, and family that may call from unknown numbers, if you answer, hopefully you will not be let down and forced to fend off a telemarketer. It's your choice to determine if the person on the line is someone you wish to speak with. However, you should not rely on Caller ID to be accurate particularly when the info displayed does not look familiar to you or if there is no info displayed. If the caller isn't someone you would ever want to talk to, tell them so. Just because they have your number doesn't mean they have a right to call/harass you. Once you tell them, if they call back it's considered harassment.
Avoid filling out sweepstakes entries in local malls, restaurants, and shops. The problem is that the entrant never knows exactly who is running the contest or sweepstakes and the entrant is much more likely to be solicited to buy a variety of things such as a timeshare or products from telemarketers once they drop the entry into the box. While some of these contests will let you know upfront if they are selling timeshares, there are still a fairly large number that will not mention that these entries are often a cash cow for them by selling your information.
The info is rented, shared, and sold to anyone willing to pay for it without any screening of the purchaser to determine whether they are law abiding or not. This detail is never stated upfront. Sometimes there is no other way to contact the company directly to find out these policies and even when there is, it's not uncommon to be lied to or have your questions avoided. This is what makes it not worth the bother to contact them or offer up your info by entering.
Another problem with these contests is that your private info (home address, work/cell/home phone numbers, and email) can often be accessed by crooks stealing the box or recording your info in some way whether by writing what they see down or by taking a photo with a camera or phone. There are many ways to win a car or a vacation, but there is no need to make yourself available to solicitors or crooks in the process. In many cases, you would be better off to save up for that car or vacation and bypass contest boxes.
Do not respond to or click on pop up or pop under ads and avoid taking part in online surveys. Just as you would find offline, there are a large number of unscrupulous marketers and advertisers. The web simply provides greater opportunity to reach more people, often anonymously. Some marketers use pop up and pop under ads that automatically expand or even take you to their sites if you mouse over the ad (even if you're only trying to close it).
Not only are they irritating, they distract the person from the tasks at hand. Others will email you trying to get you to do something that benefits only them, most often they are companies and people that you've never even heard of. However, a large percentage are bold enough to lie and claim they are part of a well known brand/company.
Because many of the people using the internet are unable to tell whether or not the advertiser is honest, millions of people take surveys that unleash dozens of "offers" and "trials on them because they gave up their contact and banking information for a survey or offer. This is especially true of those who admittedly know little about computers or have gotten their first computer. Those who are too trusting often pay the price with their wallet even when they are supposed to get paid for taking a survey. Taking surveys online is not a way to earn a wage and it is highly recommended that you beware simply because of the overwhelming number of frauds.
It is common to see surveys, offers, and trials worded in a misleading way. Freebies are advertised but the full details aren't easy to read if available at all. Vague wording serves to keep you on the financial hook long enough so they can continue to bill you more, even for things of little to no value. If they aren't billing you they are usually selling your info to companies that will, even without your knowledge! Many people are made to think that there are no strings attached to surveys or that any trial offers mentioned are free but this is not always true.
But wait, there's more! To go one step further and ensure getting the most bang with your buck, some companies will bury their contact info, provide only partial or incorrect contact info, or not provide contact info at all. Many survey takers get confused because the offers come fast and furious just hours and days after they sign up from various companies they've never heard of and never done business with. Others complain that their computers shut down or died immediately after using these types of sites but don't have an authority to complain to. Be sure to always use pop up blockers, anti-virus/malware software and avoid online surveys.
Warn relatives who are new to using the internet that there are tricksters and fraudsters online. People of all ages and backgrounds are scammed simply because they trust what they read or see. Stay away from untrustworthy companies and websites and look for both company and product reviews before visiting sites that are new to you. Better to be safe than sorry. Don't forget, research company & product info online BEFORE agreeing to anything, even FREE stuff!
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