Everyone has been or will be the victim of fraud.  I know of at least 5 times I was frauded out of money. If your over the age of 20 and think “I have never been a victim of fraud”, then you got scammed without even knowing it.

It is not your fault that you were frauded.  Humans have urges, desires and emotions.  It’s these urges and desires that online predators use to trick you into buying something or you giving them information.

Here are some common ways to avoid being frauded online and tips on how to protect yourself.

1. Distrust every health/money making/beauty product review you read. 

I mean EVERY one of these products. Something called a flog or Fake Blog is where a person  writes a 100% fake story about a mom in your area who discovered 1 secret that makes some industry furious.  The same scenario plays out over and over.  Don’t fall for the free product sample.  You pay the shipping and seven days later you are charged a 100 bucks and you are now a monthly subscriber.  You now find it next to impossible to get someone on the phone to cancel and you keep getting charged.

2. DON’T Trust Your E-mail. 

NEVER click through a link in an e-mail.  Instead go to a search engine and find the website in question.  This tip alone will save you from the many fake banking websites that look just like your real bank.

The IRS, banks, lottery, weight loss, make money e-mails that come in are lies.  No bank or IRS is going to be inserting links in the e-mail for you to click.  Just delete the e-mails.  If you won something or the bank or IRS wants something from you, they will give you a call.

If you get an e-mail about a bill and you are unsure of the source or never heard of the company, simply delete the e-mail.  As stated already it’s most likely a scam.  If they wanted something they would of mailed you or called you.  It’s a little different if you signed up for bill pay for let’s say your electric bill.  Even then you should go directly to the website and not click on any link in the e-mail.

On the same note, unless you signed up for a news letter to receive product information and the like, you should just delete that e-mail about the latest penile erection pill.  It’s a scam….  Run Away…..

3. Use a paid antivirus client. 

I know I’ll take some heat for not telling you to use a free antivirus client.  You get what you pay for.  Paid antivirus clients offer live up front virus protection and are kept up to date with the latest virus strikes as soon as they happen.  Free clients do not offer live up front protection or they will not have all the latest virus definitions to really protect your computer.  Using a paid client is the best way to go.

4. When you purchase an item online ALWAYS use a credit card. 

I personally hate credit cards.  Debt is dumb.  However debit cards do not offer the same consumer protections online that a credit card will.  Credit cards have protection in them in case you become a victim of fraud or if your card number get’s released from someone hacking a system online.  Use your credit card to make the purchase and pay it off right away.  That is what I do.  If your card number ends up being stolen you will most likely not be liable for the charges.  If you are it will be something like a 50 dollar fee.  That is far better than your 5 grand checking account being drained and the bank saying there is nothing they can do for you.

5. Have a complicated password for all your sensitive accounts.

I have my bank accounts, stock brokers, life insurance, social profiles, e-mail accounts and so many other sensitive accounts.  I protect them by having a complicated password on them,  use at least one capital letter, one number and one special character if possible.  One e-mail account I had a simple password for and my craigslist account has a simple password as well.  BOTH have been hacked in the past from it.  Complicated is needed to prevent fraud.

To make things complicated you should also be using different passwords on different accounts.  This is to prevent one person from accessing all your accounts in case one password gets hacked.  You would not want 1 key after all for your house, cars, work, mailbox ect..  One single person gets it and your entire world is flipped upside down. I know this is complicated and hard.  You should use a password reminder program like Roboform.  Works great and keeps things locked down.

6. Keep your social profiles like Facebook, twitter, linkedin on lock down.

We all want to share information with certain friends.  However we should keep our social profiles private and not let the world see everything you do.  If you’re going out of town, try not to disclose too much information.  If for instance you have a public profile and stated you were leaving on X date and I can see where you live, you may get an unexpected visit. If your profile was private only those you aloud to view the profile would know about it.

You should also not trust any request for money.  It may be something like send me a wire transfer now because I’m in a Mexican prison and I’m desperate.  It’s a scam.

7. Selling and buying online.

If you purchase an item online never send a wire transfer.  If it’s out of the country, definitely don’t send it.  9 times out of 10 it will be a scam.  If you are purchasing a large ticket item, call the company and get them on the phone.  I do it even for smaller purchases.  If you can’t get a real person on the phone before you buy the product, you sure as hell won’t be able to get them on the phone after you buy it.

Again the whole DON’T TRUST PEOPLE comes into play.  Trust is something that is earned.

If the product in question is a larger ticket item you can use an escrow service that will hold the money till the product comes in.  This can cost a little penny but it’s something I have done dozens of times.  Don’t use an escrow service the other party recommends as it may be part of a scam.  Instead find a well known reputable company.  escrow.com for instance is a solid source.

If you’re the one selling the product, ensure you have the money in hand.  No a cashiers check or money order.  If it is, you need to wait till the funds clear before you send the item.  It can take up to a weak.  Ask the banker if the money order or cashiers check is real.  They may even say yes and it ends up being fake.  I’ve seen it happen before to a friend of mine. He was out three grand if I recall correctly because he trusted the bankers word that the cashiers check was real.  Wait for the FUNDS TO CLEAR.

I’m sure you have your one tips.  Share them with others or a story about you being scammed.

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